OSU celebrates Native American Heritage Month
This month, The Native American Longhouse has divided attention between tradition, modern issues
Published: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Updated: Sunday, November 18, 2012 23:11
With this holiday time of feast some may forget why they have Thursday, Nov. 22, off from classes and the reason why people celebrate Thanksgiving in the first place: to honor a bond and a friendship between the first people of this land and the white settlers.
November is Native American Heritage Month and the Native American Longhouse has been putting on events throughout the entire month in an effort to celebrate culture and educate the public.
“[The Longhouse wants] to educate campus about Native American culture and forge a bridge between the two communities,” said Ana Marquez, Longhouse community outreach specialist. “Often students think the center is just for Native American students, but it is for everyone to come, learn and celebrate.”
So far this month, the center has offered events including earring making, dream catcher building and an educational series about Native Americans and the dangers of diabetes.
“We try to plan events that deal with modern issues facing Native Americans, like diabetes, and more traditional events like making medicine bags or dream catchers to try and capture all parts of our history,” Marquez said.
Especially around Thanksgiving, Native American students and Longhouse staff members see stereotypes of Native Americans portrayed more heavily.
“Everyone just labels us as one big group, natives, without recognizing that there are huge differences between tribes,” said Mariah Huhndorf, the Longhouse activities coordinator. “For example, everyone assumes that a traditional Thanksgiving dinner would be turkey and stuffing when in reality Native Americans along the West Coast would have most likely eaten a salmon feast, not a turkey one. Native American tribes vary extremely from coast to coast and shouldn’t be all lumped together.”
“Part of our mission, here at the Longhouse, is to educate the public and diminish some of the misunderstandings and misconceptions that are associated with being Native American,” Marquez added.
Part of this education is achieved through resources and availability to students. Natalia Fernandez, Oregon State University’s multicultural librarian, discusses ways and resources on campus for students to get a better understanding of Native American Culture.
“We [in archives] have a lot of resources pertaining to the Native American Longhouse,” Fernandez said. “Students just have to be willing to come in and utilize our great staff.”
Within the Oregon Multicultural Archives students have access to Barometer articles and Beaver yearbooks dating back to before the 1930s in printed form and on microfilms. Also, available are digital displays of Oregon’s first Pow-Wow, recent articles and flyers collected throughout university history.
“My next big project is digitizing all the photos in the Longhouse for the new, renovated cultural center,” Fernandez said. “We just want to make it clear that the archives are open to everyone and it’s easy to find a lot of cool information.”
For the remainder of the month, the Longhouse is hosting Alaskan Native Games, Medicine Bag Making, Nike N7 Basketball Games and a Native Movie Night.
“We want everyone to feel free to come check out the events and learn something about Native American Culture,” Marquez said.
Callie Simmons, news reporter