Native American Heritage Month celebrated on campus

The Mihdowiya Society and the American Indian Education and Cultural Center are working together to sponsor events throughout November to celebrate Native American Heritage Month.

The events included Lakota Arts and Identities, panel discussions, a book club and an appearance by the author and an American Indians in Higher Education Scholarship Showcase hosted by the Mihdowiya Society. All of the events are free and open to the public.

 “[The purpose of Native American Heritage month is] to showcase and highlight the variety of different cultural impacts that tribal people have had on the United States,” said Richard Meyers, the Coordinator of American Indian Studies and assistant professor of journalism and mass communications.

Meyers said there is a larger percentage of Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people on campus. There are other tribes on campus, but not in the “same representation.”

“South Dakota State University has made great strides into reaching out to the native communities in the state, and the other element of Heritage Month is to showcase that there are students here from the communities who are doing what students do, which is pursuing their education,” Meyers said.

Meyers said learning more about other cultures enhances people’s perspectives.

“I think cultural diversity enriches peoples lives to understand that there is a whole world out there with multiple people and perspective and the valid reasons for why there’s differences which is something to be embraced as opposed to view with fear,” Meyers said.

Ernest Weston, a junior political science major and Indian studies minor, is the President of the Mihdowiya Society, one of the American Indian student groups on campus.

Weston said that Mihdowiya in English means “make on own way,” or to, “prepare myself”.

“The American Indian Student population at SDSU is just under 1 percent out of the over all student population,” Weston said. “So having an American Indian Student Organization is important in building retention and a voice for students.”

Although the Midhowiya Soceity is an American Indian group, Weston said it isn’t just for Native Americans.

“We love to have students come join us and learn,” Weston said. We welcome everyone into our circle.”

The society has been in charge of hosting the American Indians in Higher Education Scholarship showcase.

Weston said the theme of the showcase is “Ohúŋkaŋkaŋ Kiŋ Wičháuŋgluonihaŋpi, Wóuŋspe Uŋ,” which in Lakota means, “honoring our ancestors through education.”

There have been two panel discussions: American Indian Males in Higher Education and Native Women in Higher Education. Meyers spoke about “The Negotiation of Identity in higher Education and Kellyn James presented about Native Women Leadership.

“It was a collective effort between all of the employees here at the American Indian Center and some of our students here,” said Derek Schmidt, a graduate student who has been helping plan some of the events for the American Indian Education and Cultural Center.

The American Indian Education and Cultural Center had a Lakota Arts and Identity Art Showcase featuring Lakota art at the South Dakota Art Museum. The center also had a film showing of a documentary about the Dakota War with a question and answer portion following the film.

Throughout November, the American Indian Education and Cultural Center had a book club called “A Novel Bunch”. The group has been reading Bead on an Anthill by Delphine Red Shirt.

Red Shirt will be coming to campus on Nov. 21 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the South Dakota Art Museum.

“She will be very insightful,” Schmidt said.

The book club has met every Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.. Schmidt said that the book club is open to anyone who wants to attend.

“Our biggest [goal] is really sharing this with the community of SDSU and the Brookings community and the surrounding areas,” Schmidt said. “The more people that are attending the better.”