The University of Utah and American Indian Resource Center (AIRC) recognize the eight federally recognized tribal nations of Utah and the 574 federally recognized nations of the United States for the contribution they have made in the past and continue to make today. Throughout the month of November, the AIRC and partners across the University of Utah will collaborate to bring awareness and understanding around the historical and contemporary issues, rich culture, traditions, history, and the many contributions Native American and Alaska Natives have provided to the world. We also wish to acknowledge the many exceptional Native American students and leaders on campus. We encourage you to join us for events and community conversations.
If your school, college, or department has a Native American Heritage Month event in the works, submit your information through this form. These events will be compiled into one calendar and assist with cohesive outreach efforts across the entire U system. Please keep in mind that programming should not be limited to these dates — we should honor, celebrate, and engage our Indigenous community every day, 12 months a year. We encourage everyone to use the IntersectX12: Native American mark on your event promotion to honor individuals’ intersecting identities not only during nationally recognized months but serve as year-round recognition of the work being done to create an inclusive space where everyone feels they belong.
Pamela Bishop: Hello, everyone. I’m Pamela Bishop, the director of marking and communications for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). Today I’m really pleased to be here to speak with my colleagues about Native American Heritage Month.
Today, we have with us Franci Taylor, who’s the director of the American Indian Resource Center; Bryan Hubain, who’s the associate vice president for Student Development and Inclusion; and Brook Miller, who is a junior, biology major and also the chairperson of the Indigenous Students Association and Allies. Thank you for joining me today.
I just have a couple of questions I wanted to speak with you regarding Native American Heritage Month, and maybe Franci, you can start by telling us the importance of celebrating Native American Heritage Month. Why do we do it?
Franci Taylor: Well, as a member of the Choctaw Sovereign Nation, I’m always struck by the fact when I’m doing lectures or presentations or teaching in classes, how little of the students or people that I talk to know about American Indian people. And based on the fact that, archaeologically, we know that we’ve been here over 20,000 years, I think it’s important that we open this dialogue.
Most people think of American Indians in the past, and we’re not. We’re totally contemporary, modern people that exist in the state and on the University of Utah campus. And so, it’s an opportunity for us to share our concepts, our ideas, our cultural values and introduce to the broader population that 80% of all the foods consumed on Earth today came from the Americas and that there are many other exceptional gifts that we’ve provided the world in general. So it’s an opportunity to let people know that we aren’t members of the past, but we’re here today and willing to share. I think that’s a great opportunity. Neaesh. [Thank you.]
Pamela Bishop: Thank you, Franci. You brought about some great points.
So Bryan, then, tell us what do you want people to learn about this community during this month? What are some of the key takeaways you’d like them to think about?
Bryan Hubain: Thanks, Pamela. This month is really getting to know Indigenous people from Indigenous people. I think that’s the most important thing. As we look back on a lot of the items we know about Indigenous people, it’s from a Western perspective and not from Indigenous people. So, this month some of the major themes I would say are looking at boarding schools and the impact of boarding schools — having critical conversations about it — also missing and murdered Indigenous people. Those are some of the things that will be shaping this month.
[As for a takeaway to think about, this is a chance to] really go back in the culture of Indigenous folx and say, what are some of the things that we should know as a culture, as a university community?
Pamela Bishop: That’s true. Actually, some great points you brought about that’ll be occurring this month.
The theme of this month is “Grounded by Indigenous Love, Resilience in Kinship.” So Brook, tell us a little bit about how this theme came about and what does it mean?
Brook Miller: Well what it means — “Grounded by Indigenous Love, Resilience in Kinship” — really comes down to how we, as Indigenous people, have been able to persist through history, that we have been dragged down and had a hard time going.
But I love this quote by Deborah Miranda. She wrote a book about her grandparents and her grandparents and her grandparents in California and she says, “by such slender threads, we did persist.” And I think that just encapsulates all of the Native American culture and Indigenous culture that “by such slender threads, we did persist.” I think that really shows the resilience that we have in kinship, that together no matter what comes our way, we still persist. We’re still here. We’re still learning. We’re still growing.
So this month, we really just want people to be able to understand that by love and through love with Indigenous people and with kinship were we able to get through such hard and terrible times. We want to share more love — not the hate — and be able to highlight why we’re able to do that.
Pamela Bishop: I love that quote. Thank you so much. That is just really, a great way to frame this, and so thank you all for joining us and for your perspective on this.
To learn more about what’s happening during Native American Heritage Month, and what’s going on in EDI in general, please visit our website, diversity.utah.edu. Thank you.