The month of November serves as Native American Heritage month. Declared in 1990, Native American Heritage month is meant to provide a platform for indigenous people in the United States to share about their community, culture, history and modern issues and concerns.
“Honoring indigenous people is not something that should only be done once per year, rather we should think about inclusion all year long,” Michelle Larkins, Director of the Center for a Sustainable Society said.
The Center for a Sustainable Society, along with other groups at Pacific, are currently working toward getting Pacific to complete a land acknowledgement. A land acknowledgement involves taking time before a large social event to recognize a certain group of indigenous people as the original inhabitants of the land.
Pacific University is on Kalapuyan land, more specifically Atfalati, a northern tribe of Kalapuyan people who lived in the Willamette Valley and Forest Grove area.
“My personal goal by the time I graduate in the spring is to have the land acknowledgement happen at my graduation,” senior Daela Munoz said. “We have nothing to lose by just acknowledging it and being a better ally, and I think that is a really important step.”
The Portland area holds a high population of urban Native Americans, but not many other people in the community are aware.
“The people around you might identify as indigenous even if you do not think that they are,” Munoz said. “So it is important to reach out and support these people to create a better space for them than we have in the past for Pacific University.”
On Nov. 5, Pacific hosted a lecture entitled “Decolonizing Nature” to recognize Native American Heritage month. The talk featured three indigenous individuals who lead a discussion involving indigenous knowledge and human ecological relationships that was open to all Pacific students as well as the public.
There will also be a table in the University Center dining hall with information about Native American first foods.
The table will also be used during the months after November to showcase other cultures’ foods.