Over the years, Northwest Technical College has met a number of milestones to elevate services for American Indian students but every November, in honor of national Native American Heritage Month, the campus comes together to celebrate Indigenous peoples and perspectives during a month-long American Indian and Indigenous People Heritage Experience.
A member of the college’s Division of Student Life and Success, Northwest Tech’s American Indian Resource Center offers support and programming for its American Indian and Indigenous students year-round, but activities throughout November are focused on increasing awareness and knowledge of the challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present.
“Being able to hold events like these on campus and for the wider community to engage is learning is helping our students in so many ways,” Ann Humphrey, associate director of retention for the AIRC, said. “It is important to note that not even 50 years ago we as a people were jailed and forbidden to host events like this that talk about cultural heritage and the reality of what our people have gone through to just exist. Our students are seeing more and more ability to exist in a space that was not made for them and even more to succeed there.”
Chrissy Downwind, executive director of the AIRC, said the month provides the opportunity to highlight American Indian culture and traditions with the NTC and broader Bemidji communities.
“Through NAHM we have a chance to bring a stronger voice and presence to our campus, showcasing successful American Indian leaders as examples to our own American Indian students, defining what their hard work and dedication can provide them,” she said. “Ultimately, we offer these events to bring awareness and share knowledge of our Mino Bimaadiziwin (Good Life).”
The month of NAHM events began on Nov. 3 with a presentation by Charles Grolla, an enrolled member of the Bois Forte band of Ojibwe, titled “Cultural Heritage and Tradition.” Grolla is the author of “Ojibwe Style Moccasin Game: Makazinataagewin,” which details how to play the moccasin game for old and new learners. In addition to his position as cultural teacher for the Cass Lake-Bena schools in Cass Lake, Minnesota, Grolla volunteers to teach the moccasin game to Native youth and the broader communities of Bemidji, Cass Lake, White Earth and Red Lake, Minnesota. A replay of the event is available here.
On Nov. 4 local singers and dancers from the Cass Lake-Bena Drum and Dance Troop came to the AIRC to exhibit traditional, American Indian dancing and drumming. A replay of the event is available here.
AIRC Native American Heritage Month Programming:
All events are held at the American Indian Resource Center at Bemidji State University and via Zoom.
- Nov. 9 – Michael Dahl: Centering Indigenous Wellness with modern techniques
- Nov. 15 – Panel Discussion – Reality and Impact of MMIW
- Nov. 16 – Ginew Benton – Indigenous Short Film viewing and talking 12 p.m. and 5 p.m.
- Nov. 18 – Dr. Shaawano – An Indigenous Interpretation of the Zombieland Frontier
Additional campus programming:
- (BSU) Nov. 8 – BIPOC in Higher Education: Managing Mental Health During the Pandemic
- (BSU) Nov. 12 – Overcoming Racism Conference – the Fierce Urgency for Transformation Now
- (BSU) Nov. 12 – Pathways to PhD and PsyD: Indigenous Graduate Student Perspectives
- Chrissy Downwind, executive director of the American Indian Resource Center; email@example.com