Native American Heritage Month is a Month of Place and History

At Northwestern, the significance of its location plays a vital part in its celebration of Native American Heritage Month, sponsored by Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) and other campus partners. This year’s events include a film and video festival, an art gallery walk and workshops including embodied movements and storytelling. Many of the events focus on the history of place—of our country, city, and campus.

Native American Heritage Month’s signature event is the Sand Creek Massacre Commemoration, focused on remembering and honoring the Cheyenne and Arapaho lives lost on November 29, 1864. The massacre is noted for its distinct brutality as over 200 peaceful natives were slaughtered, two-thirds of whom were women and children.

This commemoration carries a particularly distinct weight in the Northwestern community. One of Northwestern’s founders and Evanston’s namesake, John Evans, was governor of Colorado at the time of the massacre and was instrumental in its ensuing coverup. Northwestern formed a committee to investigate his role in the massacre in 2015, concluding that Evans’ decision was a “moral failure,” but Northwestern’s community still has much to learn.

Additionally, the First Nations Film and Video Festival will be held at the McCormick Foundation Center Forum on November 7, 7:00–9:00 p.m. This will showcase short films by Native American artists across a variety of skill and experience levels.

A Two-Spirit workshop hosted by Ty Defoe, a multidisciplinary artist and writer, will focus on Native American two-spirit identity as it relates to gender through a series of embodied movements and civic engagement practices. It will take place on November 16, 7:00 p.m. in Scott Hall’s Guild Lounge.

Northwestern’s history is inextricably linked to Native American history, and is one that should be acknowledged no matter how uncomfortable or discomfiting. November’s events are an opportunity for the Northwestern community to celebrate, reflect on, and honor Native Americans. Students should connect with multiple histories and lived experiences, engage in movements and expression and honor the story of the place where they are currently living and learning.

A full list of events and their dates can be found on the MSA website.