November is Native American Heritage Month

What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.

Nat'l Native MonthOne of the very proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans” and for three years they adopted such a day. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kans., formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.

The year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed.

The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. In Illinois, for example, legislators enacted such a day in 1919. Presently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday.

In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.  (Information courtesy of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior)

UW-Madison Joins in the Celebration

Native Nov logo UW-Madison’s Native November  Heritage Month was planned by a committee consisting of students, staff and faculty. While the month is centrally planned from within the Division of Diversity Equity & Educational Achievement, other campus partners included: Wunk Sheek – the American Indian student organization on campus that is in its 43rd year, American Indian Studies, the Tribal Technology Institute, the Division of University Housing, WUD Global Connections, Multicultural Student Center, ASM, African American Student Services, American Indian Student Services, and the Center for Academic Excellence. There were also several alumni and community elders that assisted in the creation of these events and the committee would like to thank them and the Ho-Chunk Nation.

This years events feature contemporary and historical issues, lectures, round tables, feasts, interactive events and films. One of the highlights of the month is the Kick-Off on Monday,  Nov. 3.  Be sure to keep an eye out for the various outdoor performances during the day and join us for the full evening exhibition at 7 p.m. in Dejope Hall.

Veterans have always been an important part of Native culture and on Nov. 15 we will honor all veterans, active military and their families with a feast at Gordon Commons. Finally, on Nov. 18 at Dejope Hall is the award-winning comedy group the 1491s. These guys have appeared on the Daily Show with John Stewart, CNN and MSNBC. Come early to get your seat as they will pack the house.

 The full schedule:

November 3rd  – Native November Kickoff, Dejope Hall, Lake Mendota Room,  7pm-9pm

Wunk Sheek Singers, Rene Bell Nevaquaya (Ho-Chunk), Hozhoni Nevaquaya (Ho-Chunk), Dennis Nevaquaya (Comanche), Tesslah Knight(Lakota/Dine), Adrien King(Lac Du Flambeau Ojibwe),

Wunk Sheek Drummers and some of Indian Countries best dancers will be performing in various locations throughout the day. In the evening join us for an exhibition of Native drumming and dancing where audience participation will be encouraged. Dancers and Drummers will discuss powwow culture, regalia, songs and dance styles. Light refreshments will be served.

November 4th – Teaching Circle, Dylan Jennings (Bad River Ojibwe)

Dejope Fire Circle, 6pm – 7pm

This teaching circle will be led by UW Madison Alumni Dylan Jenning, respected Traditional dancer and singer. He will discuss the importance of traditional subsistence, the land that UW stands on, and contemporary culture.

Beading I Workshop – Emily Nelis (Bad River Ojibwe)

Dejope Hall – Yahara River Lounge, 7:30pm – 9:30pm

Come and learn the traditional style of Lazy Stich Beading. This style of beadwork uses both glass and seed beads and be applied to several different types of material. All materials will be provided at no cost. Snacks will be served.

November 5th – Wunk Sheek Meeting, American Indian Student & Cultural Center

(AISCC) – 215 N. Brooks St., 7pm – 8pm

Wunk Sheek, the American Indian student organization on campus will hold their weekly meeting. Everyone is welcome at the meetings – join us for updates, campus resources, food and community every Wednesday at 7pm.

November 7th – Movie Night: Dance Me Outside, AISCC 215 N. Brooks St., 6pm

This Canadian drama based on a book by W.P. Kinsella, examines the tension between Native Canadians and Anglos in Canada from a Native perspective. A story of life on an Indian reservation in Ontario: Silas and Frank are trying to get into college to train to be mechanics but they find themselves having to deal with girls, family…and murder. Snacks will be served.

November 11th – Trivia Night, Wunk Sheek,  Frank Holt Center, 9pm-11pm

Test your knowledge of Native cultures past and present at our interactive trivia night. Come as a team or individual, enjoy some snacks, and win some prizes.

November 12th – Wunk Sheek Meeting

American Indian Student and Cultural Center (AISCC), 215 N. Brooks St., 7pm – 8pm

Wunk Sheek, the American Indian student organization on campus will hold their weekly meeting. Everyone is welcome at the meetings – join us for updates, campus resources, food and community every Wednesday at 7pm.

November 13th – Beading Workshop II, Emily Nelis (Bad River Ojibwe)

Union South, Industry Room, 9pm – 11pm

Didn’t finish your beadwork from the first work shop or want to start a new project? This second workshop will teach Lazy Stich and Peyote Stich beading styles. All materials will be provided at no cost. Snacks will be served.

November 14th – Pre-Mocs Roc Day, Everywhere — All Day

Roc Your Mocs is an event that formally takes place on November 15th each year, this event was founded by college student Jessica “Jaylyn” Atsye of Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico. She created the event so that indigenous people wear our moccasins and stand together worldwide, while recognizing our Tribal individuality. You can find more information about Roc Your Mocs on Facebook.

Movie Night: Pride and Basketball, AISCC, 215 N Brooks St., 6pm

On the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, basketball is more than a game. It is a lifestyle. This film explores the interesting and serious dynamic between high school basketball and warriorism for the male youth in the community of Lame Deer, Montana. Produced by Cinnamon Spear, a filmmaker born to the reservation, this documentary is a direct response to cultural appropriation and misrepresentation of Native Americans, and provides a true sense of contemporary reservation life. Pride & Basketball highlights the larger lessons at stake in playing hoops on the Rez. Snacks will be served.

November 15th – Roc Your Mocs Day, All Day — Everywhere

Veterans Feast – Gordon Commons, 5pm

This is event to highlight and show apparition for our veterans, active military and their families. Join us at Gordon Commons for a free dinner and a drum performance by the Wunk Sheek Singers. We will also highlight the role that Natives have played in US conflicts going back 200 years. Today more than 45,000 Native serve in all branches of the military and there are over 190, 000 Native veterans.

November 17th – Present and Past Interactions between African Americans and American Indians

Dr. Roberta Hill (Oneida) and Dr. Larry Nesper, Multicultural Student Center – Red Gym, 6pm

The historical and contemporary intersection between these two complex communities will be the topic of discussion for the evening. Dr. Hill and Dr. Nespar will discuss issues such as slave holding tribes and tribes that assisted and adopted run-away slaves to current issues of tribal recognition of Black Indian decendents.

November 18th – 1491’s Comedy Show, Dejope Hall, Lake Mendota Room, 7pm

The 1491s is a sketch comedy group, based in the wooded ghettos of Minnesota and buffalo grass of Oklahoma. They are a gaggle of Indians chock full of cynicism and splashed with a good dose of Indigenous satire. They coined the term All My Relations, and are still waiting for the royalties. They were at the Custer’s Last Stand. They mooned Chris Columbus when he landed. They invented bubble gum. The 1491s teach young women how to be strong. And… teach young men how to seduce these strong women.

November 20th – Movement Building & Organizing Across Identities Workshop

Paulina Helm-Hernandez, Red Gym – 2nd Floor, 4pm

Paulina is a community activist and founding member of the national First Nations/Two Spirit Collective, a queer & trans indigenous movement-building cadre. Paulina invites you to a frank conversation about what stands in the way of building the kinds of coalitions, alliances, and 21st Century thinking that moves us beyond fragmentation and isolation. Together, we will identify ways to build the kind of political unity and work necessary to transform our movements and the U.S. Register online at

Native American Society: 100th Anniversary of the Society of American Indians Meeting at UW-Madison

Dr. Larry Nesper, Union South – Northwoods Room, 6pm

Join us as esteemed UW Professor Dr. Larry Nesper discusses the 100 year anniversary of the Society of American Indians meeting on our campus from October 6-11, 1914. The SAI was the first national Indian rights organization run entirely by American Indian people. Its proceedings were covered extensively by The Daily Cardinal. The meeting was attended by 57 Native people who were from at least 13 different tribes from across the United States with a plurality coming from the state of Wisconsin. The SAI meeting at the University seemed to motivate researchers at the University of Wisconsin to begin to reach out to the tribes in the state in the spirit of the emerging Wisconsin Idea. Food will be served.

November 21st – Movie Night: Crooked Arrows, AISCC – 215 N. Brooks St., 6pm

The ancient sport of lacrosse has been part of their tribal heritage for centuries, but the Native American players on the Crooked Arrows high school team are long-time losers. When former star player Joe Logan agrees to coach the rag-tag group to seal the deal on a lucrative casino project, he sets out to turn the chumps into champs and, in the process, learns the value of loyalty himself. If the Arrows can learn to shoot straight and challenge their prep school rivals, these fast-breaking warriors may just pull off the ultimate upset and win it all! Snacks will be served.

November 24th – Sacred Sites vs Corporate Rights

Prof. Patty Loew (Bad River Ojibwe), Multicultural Student Center – Red Gym, 6pm

What makes a place sacred enough for others to acknowledge its spiritual significance and agree to protect it? Prof. Loew will discusses tribal perspectives surrounding a proposed open-pit taconite mine at the headwaters of the Bad River. Tribal members fear the mine will adversely water quality and threaten Bad River’s ancient wild rice beds. They also fear that air quality issues associated with this type of mining will threaten human health.

November 25th – Family Night Bowling, Union South Bowling Ally, 6pm-8:30pm

As an end of the month wrap up and celebration for all the hard work that the students and campus partners have put into a successful month, come join us for a fun evening of bowling. Each attendee will receive a free meal, shoe rental, and free unlimited bowling.

December 1st – Two Spirit Then and Now: Working Toward Community Healing & Wellness

Harlan Pruden (Cree-Good Fish Lake Band), Red Gym – On Wisconsin A & B, 6pm

Native LGBTQ and HIV activist Harlan Pruden will examine the current work being done to fight HIV AIDS in Native communities as well as Two Spirit traditions from a pre-contact to a present-day context. This event is hosted in conjunction with the LGBT Campus Center.