MU celebrates National American Indian Heritage Month with guest speakers, art exhibitions, film screenings

Speakers shared the insights of Native American communities through topics on media portray, food culture, clothing, art and more.

MU is hosting a series of events in celebration of the National American Indian Heritage Month, including indigenous film showings, presentations, crafts, art and speakers.

The span of events spread throughout November, including presentations and guest lectures by Native American speakers from around the U.S.

One of the events was “Backing into Transindigenous Futures” and was presented by Vicente Diaz, a Filipino-Pohnpeian. Another, “Indigenous Representations in Media Pop! Goes the NDN,” was presented by Lee Francis IV, Pueblos of Laguna.

Tony Ten Fingers gave a presentation about indigenous teaching and Lakota wisdom. He is an Oglala Lakota and was raised in the traditional ways of his people. Ten Fingers works as an Indian Health Program analyst, substance abuse clinician and college instructor, according to Twin Eagles Wilderness School’s website. He has been essential in the founding of the school.

As part of the series of guest lectures, Selina Curley and Carrie Curley from San Carlos Apache tribe spoke about how they used the traditional art to educate others about their cultural heritage and to advocate protecting their sacred land, the Oak Flat, where the tribe has resided for years.

Selina shared her personal story about moving back to the reservation camp in San Carlos in early adulthood and being amazed by the beautiful clothes Apache women wore at that time.

She said she realizes the importance of keeping those customs alive and decided to create her own clothing brand, Traditions by Selina, which consists of dresses of both contemporary and traditional styles.

“I want to have the respect for these young women but also hang on to the traditions that we have. It’s more than just fashion and more than a dress,” Selina said.

Selina’s daughter Carrie was the second speaker of the night. She was raised in the San Carlos reservation camp by her mother and aunts. Carrie expresses her cultural heritage through art.

She shared with the group one of the paintings she did on a water tower by highway 70 in San Carlos, Arizona to raise awareness on the issue of toxic chemical spray which was spread over the reservation since the 1970s.

Carrie and her mom are currently traveling around the U.S. sharing with others their perspectives and informing them about their land.

“For a lot of people they think it is just land, but for us, it is somewhere we [apache people] have lived for decades, it is where we pray,” Selina said. “It’s like some foreign companies comes to your community says they want the land under your church and then destroys the church.”

Senior Hayden Hastings said he learned a lot about Native American culture through the event. Hastings said he has taken one class with assistant professor of digital storytelling Joseph Erb, who is very vocal in the Native American community.

“I think I have learned a little more than an average person, but still not enough for sure,” Hastings said. “I never would have known about the [Oak Flat issue] without the event. And now I am super interested and really hope that their push back with the protest will be successful.”

The National American Indian Heritage Month events are sponsored by various departments in MU including the College of Arts and Science, undergraduate studies and linguistics.

There are a few final upcoming events this week, including “Wakki” (Sanctuary), a work-in-progress screening at 3 p.m. on Nov. 28 in the Fred Smith Forum, as well as Indigenous Research & Art Exhibition from 4 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 29 in 216 Stewart Hall.

Edited by Morgan Smith |

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