EDITORIAL: Celebrate Native American Heritage Month with the university community
GO AND DO
November 2: Friday Art Talk with Merlin Little Thunder and Michael Elizondo, at the Jacobson House Native Art Center, 609 Chautauqua Ave., Norman, OK.
For more information: 405-366-1667.
November 3: Saturday, AISA Fall Benefit Pow-wow, to be held at the Jim Thorpe Multicultural Center, 4th street, south of Couch Cafeteria, OU Campus, Norman, OK. 2:00 Gourd Dancing; 5:00 Supper; 7:00 Grand Entry.
For more information: Noetta Harjo, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until December 30: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is showing two exhibitions devoted to the James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection. The collection represents the Pueblos of the Southwest, the Navajo, the Hopi and more.
Until November 25: Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is showing A Gathering of Traditions: A Centennial Celebration of Dr. Charles Marius Barbeau in Oklahoma. The exhibition celebrates Barbeau’s fieldwork as a Canadian ethnographer who visited the Wynadotte and Seneca – Cayuga communities in Oklahoma in 1911-12.
Our View: Students should take advantage of a cultural education that is very accessible during Native American Heritage Month in November.
Few states have a culture grounded in Native American history like Oklahoma. Native Americans constitute almost ten percent of Oklahoma's population and Oklahoma has the largest number of Native Americans in the U.S., according to U.S. Census data. But Native American customs are foreign to many in a homogeneous American culture, especially at the University of Oklahoma where only 5 percent of the student population identifies as Native American, according to the OU Factbook.
Native American Heritage Month is celebrated by various government agencies like the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the National Park Service and the Smithsonian Institution, but grassroot programs presented at the university to students by students are even more important to keep the Native American cultural heritage alive and to best represent a very small community on campus.
Students should attend events and visit exhibits on campus this month to better understand a culture and people so important to Oklahoma's history and development today -- to ensure it is not lost and to recognize its importance.
Native American tradition and culture bring valuable perspectives and diversity to various institutions and sectors within the state, the university included.
The University of Oklahoma College of Law is continually recognized for it's strong representation of Native American students. In 2011, more Native Americans enrolled in the OU College of Law than any other represented minority and in 2009, the university had the largest number of Native American students in the country.
The university's Native American population continually shows it is making gains by affixing strong scholarship to growing Native American studies undergraduate and graduate programss.
The Carl Albert Center Congressional Archives holds papers of 51 former members of Congress -- four legislators of Indian descent -- which serve as an important resource for studying Native American policy, status and conditions.
In terms of economic gains, last year the Native American community added $2.5 billion in state income, $10.8 billion in state production of goods and services, and supported 87,000 jobs, according to a report released by Oklahoma City University's Economic Research & Policy Institute.
Take the time this month to visit some of the many Native American museums and education centers in the state, but don’t forget local events in Norman, too.
Celebrate Native America Heritage Month in November by taking advantage of the events and exhibitions on campus.