The University’s plans to observe Native American Heritage Month
November is recognized in the U.S. as National Native American History Month, and Brandeis recently announced their plans to commemorate Native communities. In an Oct. 30 email, the University informed its students of initiatives and two events that will take place throughout November. The email stated that while the month is characterized by Thanksgiving, it is also a time for Native American and Alaska Native communities “to honor ancestors and remember the sacrifices they made.”
On Nov. 1, two screenings of the documentary "More Than a Word," directed by John and Kenn Little of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, will take place in the Alumni Lounge. The screenings will also be accessible online. The first will be from 10:00 to 11:15 a.m., and Intercultural Center Director Habiba Braimah will moderate an informal discussion following the documentary. It will be shown again from 2:00 to 3:15 p.m. Following the second screening, Braimah will moderate a Q&A with LeManuel Bitsóí, the vice president of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and a member of the Diné community, and Anik Chartrand, a fourth-year graduate student at Brandeis and a member of the Métis community. According to the documentary’s website, it “places the successful, indigenous-led effort to change the name of Washington’s NFL football team within the wider context of Native American history and the long, destructive legacy of racial stereotyping, white supremacy, and cultural appropriation.”
The second event, a Native American artist showcase, is to take place on Nov. 21. It will feature painter and musician Geraldine Barney, a member of the Diné community from New Mexico whose work was previously featured in the Smithsonian Music Series, as well as regional and national art fairs. According to the email, “Geraldine’s art and music stems from her love of nature, particularly from the Southwest, and will share her musical and artistic talents.” At 12 p.m., Bitsóí will introduce the showcase, followed by Barney’s presentation and performance at 12:05 p.m. A Q&A, moderated by Bitsóí, will take place at 12:45 p.m. The event will be at the International Lounge in Usdan.
In addition to the events, the University is also promoting the Brandeis Library’s Native American Collections, and encourages students “to learn more about and support local Indigenous communities and organizations.”
Since 2020, the Intercultural Center has hosted an annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day event, the first two of which were held virtually. This year’s event took place on Oct. 23 and focused on Indigenous language reclamation. The event hosted three speakers, including Eva Blake, a Citizen of the Assonet Band of the Wampanoag Nation and the managing director of Philanthropic Partnerships for Grassroots International. Dawn Duncan, a Cherokee and Powhatan woman who serves as the president of Grant Connection and a member of the board of the directors of the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness, and Evangelina Macias, who is Amskapi Pikuni Blackfeet and A'aninin GrosVentre and Helaine B. Allen and Cynthia L. Berenson distinguished visiting professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, also spoke at the event.