Second-annual Native American Heritage Week aims to increase knowledge on history, social issues
By Shannon Sigafoos
Lafayette College will celebrate Native American Heritage Week (NAHW) beginning Nov. 9 with a host of activities that will include academic and cultural programming dedicated to Indigenous groups.
This is the second year that Lafayette is holding events for NAHW; this year’s events are organized and directed by Kelsey Nies ’21, Sharon Engel ’22, and Lindsey Fagerstrom ’21. Last year’s inaugural NAHW event, directed by Engel and Maddy McLaughlin ’20, was recognized at the Aaron O. Hoff Awards as the Big 8 Program of the Year.
“We met as members of Alternative School Break, through which we attended a one-week service-learning trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in March of 2019. This trip was highly influential and increased our knowledge on the history and social issues surrounding Indigenous groups in the U.S. After the trip, we realized that Lafayette has no academic or cultural programming dedicated to Indigenous groups,” explained Nies. “We know that there are numerous examples of ways we can acknowledge the local history of settler colonialism, be more inclusive and historically accurate, and educate our Lafayette community about the Indigenous ancestry and contemporary status of the region.”
Scheduled events will include:
Nov. 9, 7 p.m.: Keynote speaker Adam DePaul
Storykeeper and Tribal Council Member of the local Lenape Nation
Nov. 11, 7 p.m.: Indigenous Erasure in Higher Education
Community discussion: Lafayette’s past and future
Social media campaigns will include:
Nov. 10: Environmental Justice in Indigenous Communities
Campaign with Office of Sustainability
Nov. 12: Health Disparities in Indigenous Communities
Campaign with Pre-Med Club
NAHW also will include a weeklong fundraiser for the NDN, an Indigenous-led organization dedicated to building Indigenous power. Donations can be made at ndncollective.org/donate.
“We believe that simply recognizing the Indigenous heritage of the region through NAHW and an Indigenous Land Acknowledgment is only the beginning,” says Nies. “We must nurture a relationship with the Lenape Nation that is built on understanding and respect, and we should strive to cultivate a campus community that is inclusive and equitable for students, faculty, and staff with Indigenous heritage. We hope that these events will continue the efforts started in November of 2019.”
NAHW events are sponsored and supported by Alternative School Break and the Office of Intercultural Development.