More than 100 years ago, in 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association directed its president to ask the United States to observe American Indian Day. Seventy-five years later, the US government enacted a resolution designating November as National American Indian Heritage Month.
At the University of Oregon, Native American Heritage Month is observed each November.
The UO is located on Kalapuya ilihi, the traditional indigenous homeland of the Kalapuya people. Kalapuya people were dispossessed of their indigenous homeland by the US government and forcibly removed to the Coast Reservation in Western Oregon following treaties between 1851 and 1855.
Today, Kalapuya descendants are primarily citizens of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. Seven other federally recognized Tribal Nations also call Oregon home.
Sophomore Michaela Begay (Diné and Akimel O’odham) shares her testimonial attesting to the importance of role models, community support and the critical need for Native American voices to be heard and acknowledged.
Native American Heritage month provides opportunities to listen, acknowledge and be acknowledged; honor and be honored; and learn and participate. Native American Heritage is one month, but the listening and acknowledging that Michaela Bengay calls for is needed every month.
2019 Native American Heritage Month Events
The University of Oregon is located on Kalapuya ilihi, the traditional indigenous homeland of the Kalapuya people. Following treaties between 1851 and 1855, Kalapuya people were dispossessed of their indigenous homeland by the United States government and forcibly removed to the Coast Reservation in Western Oregon.
Today, Kalapuya descendants are primarily citizens of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, and they continue to make important contributions to their communities, to the UO, to Oregon, and to the world.
In following the Indigenous protocol of acknowledging the original people of the land we occupy, we also extend our respect to the nine federally recognized Indigenous nations of Oregon: the Burns Paiute Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Coquille Indian Tribe, the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, and the Klamath Tribes.
We express our respect to the many more tribes who have ancestral connections to this territory, as well as to all other displaced Indigenous peoples who call Oregon home. Hayu masi.
Leaving shik’éí (“my family” in Navajo) to pursue higher education is never an easy thing. But seeing that I am a role model for my younger siblings, it pushes me to keep going in my studies.
Seeing that I am also a role model for kids from both of my tribes, it pushes me to hope for more Native population, not only at the UO but other universities.
The University of Oregon provided me with a Native American/Indigenous community. This community gave me a home away from home, with individuals who are supportive and kind-hearted, but mostly who are into their culture and other Native Tribes as much as I am.
Native voices need to be heard and acknowledged. Native American Heritage Month allows us to celebrate our traditions, culture, and our ancestors.
I am proud to be Diné and Akimel O’odham on the Kalapuya People’s Land. Ahéhee’
Engaged Humanities: Partnerships Between Academia and Tribal Communities
In partnership with the University of Oregon’s Native American Studies program and the Native Strategies Group, the Oregon Humanities Center will host the 2019 Western Humanities Alliance conference, “Engaged Humanities: Partnerships between Academia and Tribal Communities” on November 8 and 9, 2019.
Centered on three thematic axes—climate change, sovereignty, and place—the conference will explore the challenges and opportunities of humanities scholars productively engaging with tribal communities based upon core principles of respect, reciprocity, consultation, stewardship, and service.
“As a public institution in a state with nine federally recognized tribes and whose existence is inextricably tied to histories of dispossession and colonial violence, the University of Oregon has a special responsibility to continue to cultivate and strengthen ties with tribal nations,” said Kirby Brown, UO professor of Native Studies and English and enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation.
“Making space for Indigenous scholars, filmmakers, performers, community members, staff, and students to come together and share the important work going on at our institutions and across our communities is one way to honor those commitments.”
Conference talks and panel discussions will involve diverse perspectives from Native scholars, community members, and tribal leaders on topics including climate change and Indigenous people, decolonizing history, returning cultural patrimony, arts-as-activism, and more. Also featured are a screening of the social justice documentary film Promised Land and a concert reading of Salmon is Everything, a community-based play by UO Theatre Arts Professor Theresa May.
All conference events are free and open to the public without registration.
“I hope that conference attendees will come out with an understanding of how important building respectful relationships is for their academic work,” said Jennifer O’Neal, assistant professor of Indigenous, Race and Ethnic Studies and member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.
“Not just relationships where you go into a community for a short time, but sustained relationships. It’s about honoring and respecting tribal knowledge and placing them at the center.”
Sapsik’ʷałá Teacher Education Program
Sapsik’ʷałá, a Sahaptian word meaning “teacher,” is the name of a grant project created by the University of Oregon College of Education in partnership with the nine federally recognized Tribes of the State of Oregon. The 12-month program allows participants to earn a master of education (MEd) degree and teacher licensure.
The Sapsik’ʷałá Program supports American Indian and Alaska Native teacher candidates in becoming professional educators, provides funding for teacher candidates’ cost of attendance, and provides a full year of support services once in the field.
Native American Resources
UO Libraries Resources for Indigenous American Research
Native American Studies Courses - Fall 2019