On November 18, the Coastal Ballroom at the Talley Student Union celebrated thousands of years of rich and diverse history. The message was as strong as the traditional drumming boom: Native Americans are here and thriving.
Organized by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, the Native American Cultural Show closed a series of events celebrating Native American Heritage Month throughout November. In addition to the drumming, the event included dance and storytelling performances as well as food, refreshments and information tables.
Lee Chavis-Tartaglia, first year history and Indigenous student from Lumbee, stressed the importance of giving Indigenous people the opportunity to share their experiences.
“It’s important for people to see that we’re still here, we’re still on campus,” said Chavis-Tartaglia. “Maybe our voice is not that loud, we are trying to be seen… It is important that people just expand on what they know and what earth they are on. We are not homogeneous, we do not all look the same, we have all kinds of skin tones, dialects and accents.
Chavis-Tartaglia represented Native space, a lively and learning village that resides in Wood Hall. Native Space offers incoming Indigenous and non-Indigenous students a community and an opportunity to explore Native American culture.
Another important organization that supports Indigenous students on campus is the Native American Student Association. NASA aims to raise awareness of the Indigenous presence as well as to share various aspects of Indigenous culture.
A dangerous but common trend is to reduce Native Americans to a monolith. In the media in particular, representations of Amerindians and Aboriginal culture are riddled with stereotypes. These inaccurate representations completely simplify the diversity of what it means to be Indigenous.
Honiah Locklear, a sophomore integrative physiology student and current president of NASA, works to eliminate misconceptions about Native Americans.
“When people think of Native Americans, they think like a storybook and we all live in teepees, we’re all kind of dead, and that’s really not the case. We are here, we are here and we are actually like your regular people, ”Locklear said.
Locklear also stressed the importance of raising awareness of Indigenous history, which is often overlooked and misinterpreted. She advocated for a land recognition petition, an official declaration that recognizes and respects Indigenous peoples as the primary stewards of the lands we now occupy. According to Locklear, it is important for the state of North Carolina to honor the natives and their lands on which the university was built.
Also present was Olivia Richardson, a native of Haliwa-Saponi. Richardson, in a traditional fringed dress, said she was proud of her culture.
“We try to carry on our traditions and our ways as much as possible because we are such a small percentage of the population,” said Richardson. “It is really important for us to be able to continue to pass these stories and these means to the next generation and to encourage them to pass them on. “
Alongside Richardson, in the traditional men’s dance, was Landon Brewer, a fourth-year civil and native engineering student from Lumbee. Brewer ultimately wants to educate younger generations about his culture and instill a sense of pride that runs deep in his own blood.
“When I hear the drums, I hear the bells, I smell the sweet scent of sage, there’s a feeling in my gut that I just can’t explain,” Brewer said. “It seems fair. “
To sign the petition for land recognition, students can join [email protected]