IU's La Casa celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

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La Casa, the Indiana University Latino Cultural Center, is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month with a full calendar of events on the IU campus and Bloomington community.

National Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, honors the contributions made by Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrates their heritage and culture. The month falls within the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua and in celebration of Mexico and Chile’s independence day.

“National Hispanic Heritage Month is a reminder of the important role that Latinos/Hispanics have had in shaping our nation and beyond,” said Lillian Casillas-Origel, director of La Casa, which is part of the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs. “My hope is that during this period -- and really throughout the year -- people will take the time to learn more about who we really are, issues that matter to us and our contributions. There are many wonderful programs, classes and other resources available across the IU campus that can help folks reach that goal.”

IU’s celebration kicks off with a showing of the film “The Head of Joaquín Murrieta” at 3 p.m. Sept. 9 at IU Cinema, followed by a Wellness and Culture Talking Circle Series: Guatemalan Worry Dolls from 7 to 8 p.m. Sept. 12 at La Casa.

The National Hispanic Heritage Month Reception takes place from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, Bridgwaters Lounge. The event is free and open to the public.

Other events include:

  • Noon Sept. 20: A discussion on “Language Access and Cultural Sensitivity: Defining Best Practices” at the Maurer School of Law, Moot Court Room 123.
  • 7 p.m. Sept. 21: “Nuestras Raises,” an open-mic, family-style sharing of family traditions, songs, music and stories at La Casa. 
  • 3 p.m. Sept. 25: “More Than Tradition: Latin American Indigenous Film Series” at IU Cinema.
  • 7:30 p.m. Sept. 30: “¡Poesía Now! The Power of Poetry in Our Lives, featuring U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera” at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.
  • Oct. 1, 2016, to Feb. 5, 2017: Brazilian Artist Vic Muniz Exhibit at the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University.
  • 7 p.m. Oct. 13: “The Chicana Canvas,” a talk about the changing world of tattoos in East Los Angeles and their representations of beauty by Xuan Santos, assistant professor of sociology and criminology and justice studies at California State University-San Marcos at the Indiana Memorial Union Georgian Room.

“Once again, we are celebrating the month with a number of educational and fun activities that are open to both the IU community and the community at large,” Casillas-Origel said.

More than 420,000 Latinos are living in Indiana, according to recent U.S. Census population figures. With 55 million Latinos living in the U.S., or 17 percent of the total U.S. population, the Latino community is the largest ethnic or racial minority in the nation.

At IU, Latino enrollment has roughly doubled over the past decade and is up 5.5 percent from last fall. IU has nearly 6,000 degree-seeking Latino students this fall, representing a new record for the university.

Latinos' contributions on campus date back to 1910, when Lucio “Lucius” Rivera was the first Latino to earn a degree from IU. The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, originally called the Latin American Studies Program, was founded in 1963, with James Scobie as its first director.

In 1973, the Office of Latino Affairs was founded to help serve the academic, social and cultural needs of Latino students. That summer, Horacio Lewis donated a house on South Park Avenue, creating the first Latino Cultural Center. In 1976, La Casa moved to its current location on Seventh Street.

When La Casa was established, it was one of the first centers of its kind in the state and today is one of two such centers in Indiana. The center services about 12,000 faculty, students, staff and community members. 

More information on this year’s National Hispanic Heritage Month celebration and other La Casa events is available online.