I would like to note that I am writing this blog post from Urbana-Champaign, and I recognize and acknowledge that I am on the lands of the Peoria, Kaskaskia, Piankashaw, Wea, Miami, Mascoutin, Odawa, Sauk, Mesquaki, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Chickasaw Nations. These lands were the traditional territory of these Native Nations prior to their forced removal; these lands continue to carry the stories of these Nations and their struggles for survival and identity.
As a land-grant institution, the University of Illinois has a particular responsibility to acknowledge the peoples of these lands, as well as the histories of dispossession that have allowed for the growth of this institution for the past 150 years. We are also obligated to reflect on and actively address these histories and the role that this university has played in shaping them. This acknowledgement and the centering of Native peoples is a start as we move forward for the next 150 years.
November is National Native American Heritage Month!
This month began in 1990 after centuries of advocacy by Native communities across the United States. Traditionally, this would be a month highlighting the vibrancy and power of Native culture and history through public events, conferences, and celebrations. Of course, the words “public events” probably send a shiver down your spine this year, but that doesn’t mean people across the country aren’t getting creative to commemorate this month with joy and solemnity. To find out more about national events and celebrations, you can visit Native American Heritage Month’s website.
Here at the University of Illinois, we have an incredible wealth of resources concerning both the history of Native people in the United States and locally. I’ve included just a few below to get you started, and I invite you to explore not just this month, but over all your years here at Illinois. Without learning about the history and validating the experiences of Native communities (communities that have long been forcefully silenced and discriminated against), we cannot truly call ourselves celebrants of diversity.
Native American House
The Native American House (located at 1206 W Nevada St. in Urbana) is a wonderful community. Their mission is to “serve as a support and resource center for Native American students, including all students and the campus.” Throughout the year NAH will have events and programming dedicated to both Native students and any student looking to learn more about Native American history and life. Make sure to like their Facebook page or follow their Twitter for updates on the events they are holding for Native American Heritage Month!
American Indian Studies
If you really enjoy these resources and really want to dive into learning about the Native American experience, consider adding an American Indian Studies minor to your resume! While there are several classes offered by the department, many different disciplines (film, anthropology, history, religion, and more!) offer courses that are crosslisted under AIS. During Native American Heritage Month, AIS is hosting several speakers, with talks ranging from different kinds of research on Indigenous culture to understanding the effect of COVID-19 on Native communities. You can find out more on their website.
The UIUC library system has several different guides to help students looking to find resources on Native life and culture. The first one, linked here, is from SSHEL (Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library), and it provides a fantastic overview of where to find scholarly articles, books, periodicals, and other types of resources concerning Native Americans. If you’re looking for information related to the relationship between the national government and Native communities, our Government Information Services Library has its own guide dedicated to that topic. We also have books for a young adult or children’s audience; check out this list for inspiration and see what’s available here at our library!
And while you’re on the library website, check out books written by some our Native Faculty members. You can check out Jenny L. Davis’s 2018 book, Talking Indian: Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance, from SSHEL, or read Dustin Tahmahkera’s book Tribal Television: Viewing Native People in Sitcoms, online through the library website. And that’s just two examples; there are many others! For more information on these or other library resources related to Native culture, contact our subject specialist Cindy Ingold (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Written by: Aine
Posted by: Ryan