On November 17th, Student Life will host the Mystery of the Red Dress Event in the Rampart Range Campus Atrium from 11:00 a.m.- noon. This murder-mystery event will collect donations for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. Come learn about indigenous heritage.
Native American Heritage Month
by Kathy Sturdevant, History Professor
November is an opportunity to celebrate America’s indigenous heritage. Americans have long celebrated Thanksgiving near November’s end, recalling 1621, when English Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony shared with Wampanoag warriors a day of thanks for their first successful harvest. Today, centuries of conflict, oppression, and genocide overshadow that occasion.
In 1986, President Ronald Reagan designated November 23-30 as American Indian Week. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush declared November Native American Heritage Month. The 2021 theme is to disseminate the history and traditions of indigenous Americans with the goal of cultural appreciation.
True cultural appreciation means asking, learning, and being an “ally.” One must reject false narratives, not perpetuate offensive stereotypes, and avoid any marketing that appropriates cultural elements as commodities. Whether it be for a Halloween or Thanksgiving event, false Indian makeup, costumes, and suggestive female garb perpetuate insulting ignorance. They contribute to the disproportionate harm that comes to Indigenous women.
Positive Indigenous cultural causes currently include collecting oral history; recapturing Indigenous cookery; preserving Native languages; collecting authentic Native crafts; designing new, non-offensive names for schools and teams; writing government land acknowledgements; and accurate teaching, writing, and exhibiting of Indigenous history.