Throughout the month of November, Indiana University will be celebrating Native American Heritage Month in tandem with the First Nations Educational & Cultural Center (FNECC) and the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity & Multicultural Affairs. Since it’s inception in 1990, Native American Heritage Month has strived to create an open dialogue between Native and non-Native communities, promoting understanding of Native cultures through a non-appropriative lens.
“During all of our November programming, we emphasize heritage, not history,” Nicky Belle, director of the FNECC said. “History is something that is in the past, something that people are able to disconnect themselves from. Heritage, for Native communities, is something you are still connected to. It is the traditions that you can never leave behind and everything you do in a contemporary sense is informed by your heritage. It is not something that only existed in the past that you’ve moved beyond.”
Throughout the month, the FNECC will be hosting a wide variety of activities in order to bring attention to Native cultures and issues while creating an open dialogue between Native and non-Native people. These activities include Crafternoons, hosted each Wednesday from 3-5 p.m. at the FNECC, where participants will be instructed how to make various Native art or craft projects, including beadwork and pine nut jewelry. Additionally, as part of Native Friday Films, the First Nations Center will be screening a Native film screened every Friday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. at the FNECC. These contemporary films include Native actors and directors in varying genres ranging from zombie apocalypse to coming of age.
“These activities are open to everyone,” Belle said. “Regardless of skill level or heritage. We want everyone to join us and learn about important aspects of various Native cultures and identities in a relaxed and comfortable environment.”
The FNECC will also be hosting a series of guest speakers as part of the Lunchtime Speaker Series, where each week a different speaker will present on some aspect of contemporary Native or Indigenous life. The speaker series is designed to illuminate the modern Native experience in regards to social politics, education, and more. Topics range from (Re)writing and (Re)Beading: Understanding Indigenous Women’s Roles in the Creation of Indigenous Futurisms to a presentation on the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE) in Higher Education.
A list of activities put on by the FNECC can be found at the FNECC Facebook page and for more information on the FNECC please visit their website https://firstnations.indiana.edu/index.html.