Native American Village @ Blogspot

The blog companion to the Native American Village, the free community and careers site for indigenous peoples, part of the Multicultural Villages network.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A good idea: How about American Indian Awareness Week?

November is, ostensibly, National American Indian Heritage Month. This year, according to a proclamation by the White House, "we honor the generations of American Indians and Alaska Natives who have added to the character of our Nation. This month is an opportunity to celebrate their many accomplishments and their rich ancestry and traditions."

Nonwithstanding the odd construction "generations...who have added to the character of our Nation," the sentiment can be appreciated. The month can be an opportunity to celebrate -- as good an opportunity as any. The problem is, American Indian Month, like many of the ethnic-themed commemorative heritage months, usually passes with little fanfare or attention -- only more so.

But a story from a student newspaper at the University of Dayton raises a good idea to think about this year: how about designating November a time to encourage awareness about Native Americans today?

The article, written by Staff Writer Carly Schott, reports that that university is for the first time organizing a "Native American Awareness Week" from Nov. 13-17. Acknlowedging that there are few Native Americans on UD’s campus, the article suggests that the emphasis on "heritage" -- i.e., more or less traditional forms of cultural/artistic expression -- is a way to move beyond culture to introduce students to contemporary social and political issues.

As more young people undertake this kind of effort on college campuses, it will hopefully provide opportunities for a greater and more diverse number of American Indians to share their news and perspectives about contemporary life, and not only focus on cultural traditions.