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WSU events celebrate Native American Heritage Month

Closeup of Tazbah Chavez
Events began this week on the Pullman campus, and continue today with the month’s featured speaker Tazbah Chavez, a citizen of the Bishop Paiute Tribe, from the Nüümü, Diné and San Carlos Apache tribes.

Native American Heritage Month is being celebrated with a host of events across the WSU system.

Events began this week on the Pullman campus, and continue today with the month’s featured speaker Tazbah Chavez, a citizen of the Bishop Paiute Tribe, from the Nüümü, Diné and San Carlos Apache tribes. Chavez is a performance poet turned director and television writer whose credits include FX’s “Reservation Dogs” and NBC Universal’s “Rutherford Falls”.  

Chavez is scheduled to begin her talk at 4 p.m., which viewers can watch via Zoom.

On Friday, the Native American Student Center will host its First Friday Feed featuring traditional foods from 11:30-1:30 p.m. The WSU Vancouver campus will host a presentation as part of its Cultural Arts and Equity Hip-Hop Series: “Redstone: Restoring Hope through Art and Culture” beginning at 2 p.m. The event is being led by the Redstone Collective, an organization seeking to bring healing and opportunity to youth by providing art and cultural programming. Information on additional events happening on the WSU Vancouver campus can be found online.

Rounding out this week’s events is the annual Ku-Ah-Mah Round Dance Saturday at the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center. The event begins at 4:30 p.m. and will include dinner provided by the Native American Women’s Association.

A list of Native American Heritage Month events can be found on Native American Program’s website.

“I hope WSU faculty, staff, and students take a moment to learn about and celebrate the rich history, culture, traditional knowledge, and diverse talents of Native American Tribes and peoples through our series of in-person and virtual Native American Heritage Month events,” Zoe Higheagle Strong, executive director of tribal relations/special assistant to the provost and director of the Center for Native American Research & Collaboration, said.

Group of Native peoples outside the WSU Visitor Center.
Washington State University will honor Native American Heritage Month with several events across multiple campuses (photo taken in 2018).

Several events the week of Nov. 15 are being organized by the WSU Spokane Student Diversity Center, Native American Health Sciences and the Native American Student Health Sciences Club.

After two years of development, a new executive policy on tribal engagement, consultation and consent for joint WSU-Tribal research activities and projects was approved last month. The policy further demonstrates WSU’s desire to consult Tribal groups as well as its commitment to include their voices in teaching, research and programming.

In Washington, the entire month of November is celebrated as Native American Heritage Month by governor proclamation. Gov. Jay Inslee also declared Nov. 26 as Native American Heritage Day, which is also recognized federally as a civil holiday.

Proclamations honoring Native American heritage on specific days and months date back more than 100 years. The archaeologist, historian and preeminent authority on Native American culture Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, is credited with being one of the first proponents of American Indian Day. In 1915, the Congresses of the American Indian Association approved Parker’s initiative and called for a national day of observation.

On Sept. 28, 1915, President Calvin Coolidge issued a proclamation declaring the second Saturday of each May as American Indian Day.  President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution 75 years later designating November 1990 as National American Indian Heritage Month. November has consistently been designated in honor of Native Americans since 1994 under a variety of names.

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