By Andreya Martinez
In 1990, George H.W. Bush declared November National Native American Heritage Month (NAHM). According to a website hosted by the Library of Congress, NAHM is a time to recognize the contributions of Native people to the United States and it’s history. The history of well-known Native historical figures such as Sacagawea, Sitting Bull and Squanto are briefly touched on his history classes, but the contributions of Native Americans span much more than that. November brings new opportunities to learn more about the contributions and accomplishments of Native Americans.
The Multicultural Dream Center (MDC), in collaboration with Commuter Services, is leading the celebration of NAHM on campus. There will be lots of events and learning opportunities around campus all month long including trivia and a social hosted at the Center. The goal of this is to not only get people thinking and talking about the history and contributions of the Native people, but also showcasing the information and resources the MDC has to offer.
CI has ties to Native Americans as well. They are the reason Ekho, the Dolphin, is the mascot. The Chumash leaders presented CI with a petition that the mascot be a dolphin as the animal has significance to their people. According to the school website, “The Rainbow Bridge” tells the story of dolphins leading the Chumash people from the Channel Islands to the mainland. The legend can be found under the information about the university mascot at csuci.edu. Additionally, the traditions held at commencement are also influenced by Native American culture (i.e. the conch blowing and sage blessing.) These heritage month celebrations give students a chance to gain insight into those things.
“We should care about our people,” says Motoko Kitazumi, Coordinator of Intercultural Services. “A good student and a good person would want to know more [about] different identities and different issues…The dream of all dreams is to have people realize the commonality [between cultures].” Ms. Kitazumi also stresses that the kick offs and the socials are all opportunities to learn and to share, so even if you don’t identify as Native American, you should still attend if interested. Keep a look out for the November calendars that will posted around campus, highlighting the events.