Campus celebrates Native American heritage through November

Native American Heritage Month is being celebrated all through November on the UO campus with a series of events, including Native-themed films, speakers, and more.

The heritage month is “a time to celebrate the rich culture, traditions, and achievements of our nation’s first people and our Native community on campus,” said Katie Staton, steward of the Many Nations Longhouse, a Tsimshian and enrolled member of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska. “It is also an important time to learn about the history and heritage of Native peoples and to support Native-owned businesses and artists.”

Some of the events on this Native American calendar are recurring, such as Culture and Community Nights at the Longhouse, but many are unique to Native American Heritage Month, including a film festival, lectures, a colloquium on Indigenous language reclamation, a world music show, and a one-act play,

Among the highlights are a free dinner presentation called BE Passionate with Steph Littlebird, an Indigenous artist and enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde. Her work will be featured in an artist-in-residence exhibit in the McMillan Gallery in the Erb Memorial Union.

Littlebird is an artist, curator, and writer. She received national recognition as curator of “This IS Kalapuyan Land,” a 2020 exhibition at the Five Oaks Museum in Portland, which was featured by ArtNews and PBS Newshour.

As an artist, her work combines traditional aesthetics with contemporary materials and subject matter to forge connections between the collective past and imminent future.

For the second year, limited-edition Home Flight wool blankets will be on sale this month. The blankets were designed by UO alumna Kale’a Calica-Younker (Coquille/Coos/Warm Springs/Yakama), and her father, Shirod Younker (Coquille/Miluk/Coos/Umpua). A portion of the proceeds to go the UO’s Home Flight Scholars Program and the Native Duck Nation Alumni Network.

Inspired by traditional basket designs and seasonal changes, the double-sided print of the blanket highlights the return patterns of ducks working together to navigate a long journey and features the UO’s traditional green and yellow.

“These events are celebrating Native Heritage and culture, but most importantly bringing light to the various concerns and issues affecting tribal communities,” said Keyen Singer, co-director of the Native American Student Union and a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla.

Singer, a second-year student who is the reigning Miss Indigenous UO, said the events happening this month are important “because they remind all students and faculty that we are still here.

“Native American Heritage month is not only in the month of November because we're Indigenous every day. In these events we can express our Indigeneity, celebrate our heritage, and not feel alone because they bring us all together,” she said.

By Tim Christie, Office of the Provost
—Top photo: Modeling the Home Flight blankets is Miss Indigenous UO, Keyen Singer (Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation), a sophomore studying environmental studies.