Native American Heritage Month recognizes hundreds of different tribes and approximately 250 languages, and celebrates the history, tradition and values of Native Americans.
At the turn of the century efforts began to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the United States. Those efforts later led to a whole month of recognition when in 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
This year’s theme at the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs is “Celebrating Tribal Sovereignty and Identity.” Tribal sovereignty ensures that any decisions about Tribes with regard to their property and citizens are made with their participation and consent. The federal trust responsibility is a legal obligation under which the United States “has charged itself with moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust” toward Indian tribes.
For more information about the month, see the resources listed below.
Nov. 1-30 | Intercultural Diversity Center, 2100 Student Center
Open to UA students, faculty and staff, UA System employees
The Intercultural Diversity Center, in partnership with Moundville Archaeological Park and vested stakeholders who are primarily citizens of southeastern Native American groups, will present Sports and Games. This year’s theme examines long-held traditional games and the importance of sports and games in contemporary Native American cultures including stick ball, the seed game, and the Choctaw hat game among others. The Sports and Games exhibit includes a multimedia component consisting of videos of people playing these sports and games, educational panels, and game items from Native American tribes. For more information, contact the Intercultural Diversity Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, Nov. 1 | noon-2 p.m. | Intercultural Diversity Center, 2100 Student Center
Open to UA students, faculty & staff, UA System employees
In partnership with the Bama Indigenous Student Organization Network, known as BISON, the Intercultural Diversity Center continues its Pop-Up Shop series focusing on Native American Heritage Month. Observed annually in November, Native American Heritage Month calls attention to the culture, traditions and achievements of the nation’s original inhabitants and their descendants. Participants will have the opportunity learn about the history and culture of Native Americans and indigenous tribes, and their contributions to society through visual presentations, basket-weaving demonstrations, food and educational resources. Lunch will be provided. For more information, contact the Intercultural Diversity Center at email@example.com.
Thursday, Nov. 2 | 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. | the Quad
In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, the second annual Cultural Exhibition will feature dancers from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, as well as social dancing and native drumming from the Southern Pine Drum Group. This event, presented by the Bama Indigenous Student Organization Network, known as BISON, was formed to encourage cultural education and attendees are asked to observe with the performances with respect. Co-sponsors of the event at the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’s Intercultural Diversity Center and the Division of Student Life’s Women and Gender Resource Center.
Monday, Nov. 6 | 6 p.m.-7 p.m. | 3700 Student Center
EveryStudent Book Club: noon-1 p.m. | Wednesday, Nov. 15 | 3125 Student Center
EveryWoman Book Club: noon-1 p.m. | Thursday, Nov. 30 | Legend’s Bistro inside Hotel Capstone (Author will attend.)
Leah Myers, who recently published her first book, “Thinning Blood: A Memoir of Family, Myth, and Identity,” will give an open book talk. The book is also featured as this month’s reading for EveryStudent Book Club (for undergraduate UA students) and EveryWoman Book Club (for graduate students, staff, faculty and community members). This event is sponsored by the Women and Gender Resource Center.
In recognition of Native American Heritage Month, the Intercultural Diversity Center continues the TEDTalk Tuesday series by featuring community organizer and activist Tai Simpson. She discusses how the way we behave politically, socially, economically and ecologically is not working by sharing the creation myth of her Nez Perce tribe. Participants will learn how she advocates for a return to the “old ways” guided by Indigenous wisdom that emphasizes balance, community and the importance of intergenerational storytelling in order to protect what is sacred. For more information, contact the Intercultural Diversity Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, Nov. 7 | 3:30 p.m.-4:45 p.m. | Zoom
Macy Pyres, M.S., of Pennsylvania State University will present her research on this topic. Historically, measures of belonging in school have not been developed with a focus on the experiences of Indigenous students. This raises questions about the validity of such measures for representing belonging in school of Indigenous students. In collaboration with The Wolastoqey Tribal Council, Pyres and others worked alongside six Wolastoqey communities in New Brunswick to define, measure and support their Indigenous student’s sense of belonging in school. This project highlights the valuable experiences of Indigenous students, the importance of relationship building in research, and the responsibility research teams hold when working in collaboration with Indigenous communities. Using their current work, Pyres will discuss and draw upon ways to engage more equitable and inclusive research practices, and ways to support school belonging for Indigenous students. The event is sponsored by the UA College of Education’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Registration is required.
Tuesday, Nov. 14 | 8:30 a.m.-10 a.m. | Intercultural Diversity Center, 2100 Student Center
(Cultural Exploration/Educational Engagement/Social Enrichment)
Open to UA students, faculty, staff and UA System employees
In recognition of Native American Heritage Month, Dr. Ted C. Nelson, director of Moundville Archaeological Park, will share information about the History of Native American Heritage Month, the role of Moundville Archaeological Park, and the Native American Heritage month exhibit Sports and Games. Dr. Nelson graduated from UA in 2020 with a PhD in Anthropology. He has been involved with research at Moundville since 2012. His most recent project was excavations along the riverbank prior to a project by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to stop erosion of the park caused by climate change and industrial river traffic. Prior to becoming director, he worked for the Office of Archaeological Research, which is also part of UA Museums and is housed in Moundville Archaeological Park.
Also sharing information that day will be Michael Billie. He will talk about the intersectionality of navigating college and being part of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and ways to be an ally. Billie was formally raised in Jackson, Mississippi, until age of 13, before moving to the Choctaw Reservation in Neshoba County for most of his life. His family currently resides in Tuscaloosa, and they are members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Billie grew up speaking Choctaw while in Jackson but didn’t fully gain the knowledge about his culture and identity through his elders until living on the Choctaw Reservation. Billie had the opportunity to learn the Choctaw dance songs and cultural purpose from his late mentor/uncle Bobby Joe. At age 10, he began playing the ancient games of Choctaw stickball and has one Men’s Championship title under his belt. Billie also enjoys making handcrafted items. Billie is a UA alum, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 2018.
For more information, contact the Intercultural Diversity Center at email@example.com.
Tuesday, Nov. 14 | noon-1 p.m. | Intercultural Diversity Center, 2100 Student Center
Open to UA students, faculty, staff and UA System employees
In recognition of Native American Heritage Month, the Intercultural Diversity Center continues the TEDTalk Tuesday series with legal scholar Kelsey Leonard. In this talk, Leonard shows why granting lakes and rivers legal “personhood”—giving them the same legal rights as humans—is the first step to protecting our bodies of water and fundamentally transforming how we value this vital resource. For more information, contact the Intercultural Diversity Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, Nov. 18 | 9 a.m.-1 p.m. | Moundville Archaeological Park, 634 Mound State Parkway, Moundville
Mary Smith of the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma will teach participants how to make a small ceramic vessel, which they can take home. Participation is free with park admission. Capacity is set at a maximum of 30 people and registration is required. The event is sponsored by the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and made possible in part by a grant from the Alabama State Council of the Arts. For more information, email email@example.com or call 205-371-8732.