Native Am. Heritage Month aims to end stereotypes
By Samantha Savaglio
The UW-Parkside Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA), the Communication Department, and Center for Ethnic Studies will be hosting several events throughout the month of November as a way to educate and inspire the community to rethink classic stereotypes about Native Americans.
The theme for this year's annual celebration is "Beyond the Mythologies and Stereotypes: Discovering the Real Stories of Native Americans."
With a violent history, Native Americans are often stereotyped and thought of as classical figures from history. This month will challenge our community to see how this culture still persists and endures during contemporary times.
On Nov 7, OMSA's annual kick-off celebration will be held at noon in Main Place. The event will feature Oneida Tribe Dancers and Drummers, demonstrating their cultural pride and talent through traditional dress, dance, and music.
Also on Nov. 7, Student Activities will present the launch of this year's First Nations Film and Video Festival in the Student Center Cinema from 6-9 p.m. The event will feature the film "Path of Souls," along with two short films "Opal" and "Nawa Giizhigong".
Ernest Whiteman III, First Nations Film and Video Festival Director and Associate Lecturer in the Communication Department here at UW-Parkside, is enthusiastic to begin the festival at our campus.
"These films are the best way to reach as large an audience as possible and show them Native Americans still exist in contemporary society and that they exist in several hundreds of differing tribes that are still vital, alive, and evolving today," he says.
On Nov 12, contemporary Native American digital artist Debra Yepa-Pappan will present "Half-Empty or Half-Full?" from 6-8 p.m. in Rita 126. Her presentation is part of the COMM 363 course, "Native Americans in Media," taught by Whiteman.
Yepa-Pappan's art focuses on the fusion of her Korean and Jemez Pueblo cultures. In her statement, she reveals, "With my work and the shows I've curated, I like to convey that Indians are contemporary people, that we are just as much a part of society, living and functioning just like everyone else."
Fay Akindes, Communication Department Chair and co-developer of this event, states, "It is interesting for students to see and decode her artwork."
On Nov 14, a speak-out will be held with keynote speaker Rita Altmeyer, Senior Equal Opportunity Specialist and alumnus of UW-Parkside.
Akindes comments on the importance of understanding the true Native American point of view. "It is easy for Americans to assume they are part of the past," she says, "Wisconsin is especially diverse in Native American tribes. It is part of our culture, too." Whiteman III
Whiteman continues on with this thought, saying, "Hopefully, [these events] show Native peoples beyond the stereotypes of beads and feathers forever connected to a sepia-toned history that is never, really fully taught in schools in America."