Through a series of events commemorating and informing the community about native heritage in the U.S., the Native American Student Services (NASS) hopes to squash decades-old stereotypes as part of Native American Awareness Month.
The NASS plans to educate students and community members about the successes of the Native American community as well as discuss the obstacles yet to be overcome by displaying Native American books through November in the Lory Student Center, Morgan Library and Fort Collins Public Library, along with various presentations and activities.
“We wanted to incorporate all these different issues not only just based on a historical perspective, which is basically the stigma of today,” said NASS assistant director Seraphina Wall. “With our programs, we wanted to bring more of the awareness of modern issues that are definitely affecting Indian country and the future [youth].”
Awareness of the cultures that make up the U.S., as well as the CSU community, remains especially crucial for students today, Wall said. This education allows for a better understanding of the world amid persisting stereotypical ethnic representations in sport team names and mascots, entertainment and advertising.
Wall said it’s often thought that, “We’re a race of the past, and we don’t exist today,” however, “Native Americans do exist today, and we have acculturated into modern society, but yet still hold on to our culture and identity as well as our stories and our language.”
And the stigma the media has placed on native culture is often subtle, but powerful, said Dr. Donna Rouner, who teaches multicultural in the media.
“There’s a lot of ignorance about people who are more indigenous to here than any of us,” Rouner said. “We hear about Africa, but we have serious problems here.”
Promoting direct action and involvement from both native and non-native students and faculty, the NASS strives to be an advocate for change.
“We would like to see our students direct what they want to see changed, and we’re just here to help assist them that way,” Wall said.
Part of that change is personified in the month-long celebration of native heritage past, present and future on campus and within the surrounding community.
The NASS opened the month last week with an Indian Taco Sale on the Plaza Thursday and community kick-off at the Fort Collins Museum on Friday night featuring performances by CSU’s Ram Nation student drum group and Red Feather Woman, a Native American storyteller, songwriter and singer.
Staff writer Shannon Hurley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Native American Awareness Events This Week:
-Wednesday Nov. 7, 6:45pm-8:00pm: Book Club Series: “Playing Indian,” Fort Collins Museum, 200 Mathews Street.
-Thursday, Nov. 8, 7:30 am-4:00pm: Poudre Valley Health System 4th Annual Diversity Symposium: Improving Health Care Services for the Native American Community, Columbine Room, Lincoln Center, 417 West Magnolia Street.
-Friday, Nov. 9, 1:00pm-2:00pm: Susan Harness, M.A. Cultural Anthropologist, After the Indian Adoption Project: A Search for Identity, NASS office, 218 Lory Student Center, CSU.