Spotlight On: Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month, and we celebrated with a month of programming through the Student Life Multicultural Center as well as conversations with Ohio State’s own Native American students. Meet Brittany, Nicole and Michael…

Photo taken at Alternative Thanksgiving via NAIPC on Twitter.

What does Native American Heritage Month mean to you?

Michael: Native American Heritage Month is gives us an opportunity to come together within the Native community. We’re also able to get exposure on campus and the resources to create time and space to spend together in celebration fo our community.

Nicole: Native American heritage month, for me, is about reclaiming a month that’s typically associated with Thanksgiving and misconceptions around Native culture and heritage.

Brittany: Native American heritage month means to me that I get to see greater Native and Indigenous visibility around campus and in Student Life at Ohio State.

What has been your favorite part of Native American Heritage Month at Ohio State this year?

Michael: Every year I most look forward to Alternative Thanksgiving. It’s a time where we come together for a banquet that celebrates traditional identity and a different story of Thanksgiving. This year I was especially excited because we brought in performers and musicians from around the country.

Nicole: I get most excited about the speakers and guests we bring to campus during the month and the opportunity to see all the amazing things they do for the Native American community.

Brittany: I was excited about the documentaries we screened during Native American Heritage Month, which allow us to dive further into Native American topics that we don’t always cover in day to day life — like adoptions, reproductive rights and musicians within our Native American communities.

What would you want other Ohio State students to know about Native American Culture?

Michael: The most important thing to know about Native American culture is that we are still here — we’re not just part of the past. And we’re very much alive today on the Ohio State campus.

Nicole: I want the community to know that we’re still here and that, while we maintain our traditions, we’re also contemporary.

Brittany: I want Ohio State students to know that we are as culturally diverse as Ohio State is. We have many traditions and customs that vary between each tribe — and so many tribes are represented right here at Ohio State.

Michael, a third-year PhD candidate studying chemical and biomolecular engineering, grew up in the Four Corners Region of the American Southwest. Michael and his family are part of the Navajo, or Diné, tribe.

Nicole is a third-year biology major from Cleveland, Ohio who is a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Nicole is part of the Native American Indigenous Peoples Cohort (NAIPC) and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) at Ohio State.

Brittany is a fourth-year history major focusing on military history with minors in American Indian studies and political science. She grew up in Oxford, Pennsylvania and is a member of the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma. Brittany recently accepted an internship in Washington, DC through the Native American Political Leadership program. She currently serves as president of NAIPC.