Butler students observe Native American heritage month

November is Native American Heritage Month. Photo courtesy of IndyStar.

EMMA CHAMLEY | STAFF REPORTER | echamley@butler.edu 

November is National Native American Heritage Month, and Butler students are reflecting on the history and culture of Indigenous people. Native American Heritage Month was designated by President George Bush in 1990

Sophomore finance major Camron Tomaszewski is a descendant of the St. Croix Chippewa tribe. He said it is essential to reflect on Native American heritage and history because it is so often forgotten. 

“Everybody lives on land that Native Americans were forced to cede to the United States,” Tomaszewski said. “We live on stolen land, all of us. We build our schools on stolen land … It’s very overlooked, and I don’t think we educate enough on it.”

Carrie Fudickar is a visiting assistant professor in the history, anthropology and classics department. Fudickar grew up in eastern Oklahoma, which is home to a large population of Native Americans. Although she isn’t Native American herself, she said the Native American community has been a big part of her life since childhood. 

When she started her research, which focuses on interactions between Native American and Black populations in the Southeast during the early 19th century, it led her to realize how little she knew about the heritage of her Native American friends and neighbors. 

Fudickar said acknowledging Native American heritage is important because American history can often neglect certain groups of people. 

“Anytime you have a nation as diverse as ours, and your history only reflects a very thin margin of those people, you are not getting the full story,” Fudickar said. “Part of my understanding of history and study of history impacts how I think about things today.” 

Indiana was built on lands traditionally occupied by the Potawatomi, Miami, Delaware and Shawnee tribes and more. A land acknowledgement from Butler is hard to come by — Jordan College of the Arts is the only one of Butler’s colleges that has a land acknowledgement published on its website. A land acknowledgement is a formal statement recognizing that the physical land where something is taking place once belonged to Indigenous peoples. 

Fudickar encourages Butler students to learn more about the land Butler occupies. 

“In terms of where we are geographically, what does it mean to Butler students to think about Indigenous spaces and Indigenous people?” Fudickar said. “Most of us have very little sense of, at any given time, who lived on the land that we’re standing on [and] who utilized it for most of human history.” 

Butler’s department of human resources sent out an email detailing the importance of recognizing Native American Heritage Month and promoting local events during the month. Celebrations in Indianapolis will take place throughout the month, primarily at the Indiana State Museum in downtown Indianapolis and the Eiteljorg Museum, which ranks as one of the best Native American art museums in the world

Justin Deem-Loureiro is a first-year political science major. He said he was adopted, so he isn’t legally affiliated with a tribe, but his heritage comes from the Coahuiltecan tribe of southern Texas. In addition to seeking out events associated with Native American Heritage Month, Deem-Loureiro said students should take time to think about how their lives have been impacted by Native American culture. 

“What I ask myself, and what I ask others to do, is to pick three things that interest them during this month — so whether it’s history, music, art or government — and think of Indigenous people and their contributions to society today,” Deem-Loureiro said. “When we do this, we truly do understand the contributions of the First Americans, or Native Americans, in our culture today.” 

Deem-Loureiro also said acknowledging that Native American heritage is not just something of the past is important as well. 

“I think the most important thing is making sure people know that Native Americans are not [just] in the past or part of American history textbooks,” Deem-Loureiro said. “We are here, and we’re continuing to make a positive impact.”


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