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BC Celebrates Native American Heritage

Heights Editor

Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

The Society of Native American Peoples of Boston College (SNAP) has teamed up with the Office of AHANA Student Programs (OASP) to create five events to take place throughout November, celebrating Native American Heritage Month. Their aim is to put on events that are both entertaining and educational in the hopes that they draw large and diverse crowds and ensure that the attendees leave with a greater knowledge of Native American culture.

This is the second year that BC has had organized events celebrating Native American Heritage Month, and SNAP and OASP hope to improve upon last year’s celebration. They added an event this year and have been working to increase attendance.

“The showing for last year wasn’t as great as we would have liked, but we’ve already seen an improvement,” said Taryn Leroy, vice president of SNAP and A&S ’13. There was a large increase in the attendance at the opening ceremonies, which took place on Nov. 1.

Two of this year’s events capitalize on the fact that Native American Heritage Month coincides with the Jemez to BC portion of the Jemez Pueblo Service Exchange program, which brings high school seniors from the Jemez and Zia pueblos in New Mexico to BC for a week.

The first was a forum with Kevin Shendo, the education director of Jemez, on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Shendo spoke about the educational system on the reservation and its goal to simultaneously foster progress and cherish tradition.

“We worked with [the Jemez program] to put on the forum with Kevin Shendo, and we also worked with them to put on Voices of the Pueblo,” Leroy said. “Every year, when the students come, they bring all their traditional wear, and they dress up in their traditional clothing, and they perform their buffalo dances.”
Voices on the Pueblo took place last night in the Rat and was the culmination of the Jemez and Zia students’ week at BC.

On Nov. 14, in the Vanderslice sixth floor lounge, SNAP will be hosting a dream catcher workshop.  The closing ceremonies for Native American Heritage Month will take place on Nov. 28 in the Murray Function Room.

For the closing ceremonies, SNAP has invited Annawon Weeden, a performer and speaker from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Cape Cod.

“We think it’ll be very interactive,” Leroy said. “He said he’ll be showing some of his dances, and then also making it more of an educational experience as well, with the history of Native American peoples, as well as how they’ve been affected now in today’s world.”
OASP has urged SNAP to establish a “learning objective” for the month. To ensure that the students who attend the events are really thinking about the information they are given, SNAP has decided to ask the audience a question at the end of each of the more educational events. For example, at the end of the forum on education, each student that attended was handed a notecard on which they had to respond to the question, “What is one new thing that you’ve learned about Native American culture?”

“Our goal is for individuals to gain a basic understanding of Native American culture,” Leroy said. “A lot of people aren’t very familiar with the culture because it’s not so present, on BC’s campus particularly. So through this, we just hope that they gain a better understanding of Native Americans, the history behind them, and also some of the struggles they’ve been facing.”

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