Since 1990, the United States has officially recognized November as Native American Heritage Month. The Native American Cultural Programs, sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Connecticut, have various events throughout November.
The group has brought in notable Native American speakers and screened various films pertaining to music, dance and society. Yesterday in the Torrey Life Science building, the Native American Cultural Center showed the film “In Whose Honor.”
The 1997 film, produced by Jay Rosenstein, follows the story of a Spokane Indian woman named Charlene Teters who spoke out against the University of Illinois mascot, Chief Illiniwek. It presents real footage from the university’s inaccurate past portrayal of Native Americans and shows how those Native Americans who resisted the ritual won back their culture.
“I didn’t realize there were so many teams that had (Native American) mascots. I knew there were some,” Reilly Kimberly, a fifth- semester woman’s studies major, said. “I learned people really want to hold on to their racist traditions.”
Catherine Kimberly, a Native American Cultural Center student staff member and seventh-semester classics major, presented the movie the hopes of spreading awareness about the obstacles facing the community.
“I don’t think a lot of people are aware of the issues of the Native American communities,” Kimberly said. “I want to let students who have an interest in the culture know there is a place for them here and that they don’t need to be Native American to join.”
This inclusive environment Kimberly works to radiate to the student body is exactly what influenced Stevens to take on the position of intern for the cultural center.
“My advisor told me about it and it just sounded very interesting,” Stevens said. “In general, I’m white and I don’t consider myself to be anything special. But when I’m doing social justice work in the future, I want to know different groups, like the Native Americans, and I want to be able to know how to help them.”
Those who want to get involved in the Native American Cultural Programs or participate in programs on campus, can go to their facebook page, UConn Native American Cultural Programs, or NACP.uconn.edu for more information.
Lillian Whittaker is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.