Native American Heritage Month:
Education, reflection, responsibility
By Nicole Barney, Member of the Klamath Tribe and Roshelle Weiser-Nieto, Member of the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin Paiute Tribe
November is recognized as Native American Heritage Month (NAHM) and is a time of education, reflection and responsibility. For indigenous peoples, it can be a time of celebration, but it can also be a time to mourn the loss of our land, the genocide of our ancestors and the ongoing colonial efforts of the settlers for indigenous erasure. While many states have recognized some form of American Indian Day since 1915, the NAHM was officially declared in 1990 by the 41st President of the United States.
We celebrate NAHM in November 2021 in Kalapuya Ilihi (homeland) with gratitude for the knowledge they have shared and their continued contributions to the community and beyond. The Kalapuya people were dispossessed of their homeland, forcibly evicted, and today many descendants are citizens of the Confederate Tribes of the Siletz Indians and the Confederate Tribes of the Grand Ronde.
In honor of NAHM, we invite UO faculty, staff and students to consider the following:
- Introduce yourself as an accomplice! While the covenant can be passive, co-conspirators roll up their sleeves, speak out, and help do the job with love.
- Adopt a listening position: Talking to others, focusing on your own feelings or silencing indigenous voices is a form of erasure.
- Stay curious: Take learning into your own hands. Be aware of the emotional work and the burden it takes for Native Americans to continually educate others about our history and experiences.
- Indigenous Voices Center and knowledge throughout the year. Commit to continuing your learning journey in November and beyond.
To our fellow native ducks, we hope you find time to celebrate the survival of our people. We need to practice self-care, support each other and find community in this historically white institution, dominated by Western culture and values. We wish you many blessings and lateral love on your academic and healing journeys. Mo sepk’eec’a!
Nicole barney is a member of the Klamath tribe of Chiloquin, Ore., an alumnus of Sapsik’ʷałá (2010) and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Special Education and Clinical Sciences. Her research focuses on research practice partnerships, suicide prevention, and mental health promotion among rural AI / AN youth.
Roshelle Weiser Nieto is also a member of Klamath Tribal, Modoc and Yahooskin Paiute. She is triple Duck, graduated with a BA in Ethnic Studies in 2006, an MSc in 2010 from UOTeach and Sapsik’ʷałá, and is now a third-year PhD student in Critical and Sociocultural Studies in Education. His research focuses on Indigenous pedagogy, ethnic studies and historical healing.