Student interest could lead to Native American Heritage Month, director says

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Campuswide celebrations try to reflect students’ interests.

By Asia Andrews

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

This college will not plan events in observation of Native American Heritage Month.

Native American Heritage Month celebrates the diverse cultures and contributions of Native Americans and was declared to be celebrated in November by former President George H. W. Bush in 1990.

Jacob-Aidan Martinez, director of the office of student life, said the months observing cultural identities that are planned by committees at this college are Raza Heritage, LGBTQIA+ History, Black History and Women’s History.

Certain months are chosen because of the level of student interest they generate, Martinez said.

LGBTQIA+ History Month is an example of a committee-led event that grew because of student interest.

“I was here when LGBTQIA+ History Month expanded from a week of events to a month,” he said.

In 2016, Mark Bigelow, National Society of Leadership and Success coordinator, requested that Coming Out Week be changed to LGBTQIA+ History Month.

Other colleges celebrate different months. For example, St. Philip’s College celebrates World Autism Awareness Month in April.

This college may not have a Native American Heritage Month, but events for Native Americans have been held, such as an event for Indigenous People’s Day Oct. 14.

Juan Mancias, tribal chair of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas, and Laura “Yohualtlahuiz” Rios-Ramirez, group leader for the Kalpulli Ayolopaktzin, sing for “Permiso,” or permission, to perform the “Huitzilopochtli” at the celebration of Indigenous People Day Oct. 8, 2018 in the mall. Rios-Ramirez said she wants students to continue using education as a tool to liberate oppressed natives and build solidarity with the indigenous people of the Americas. File

He said members of committees are always asking, “What can we do to engage students to want to come to events?”

“I think that if there is enough interest there, then yes, Native American Heritage Month could become a campus celebration,” Martinez said.

Native American heritage gets people to stop and think, he said.

Faculty, typically from the history program, have had ideas about events they want to host and are more informed about certain cultures, Martinez said Oct. 6.

Adjunct Brooke Linsenbardt has contacted the office of student life to inform them of the occasion because she knew that the college doesn’t officially celebrate the month.

“Regardless of the interest, months like Native American Heritage Month should be acknowledged,” she said.

Linsenbardt said she would like to host or create an event celebrating Native American heritage.

“Every institution, city and state needs to acknowledge that the land they’re on is indigenous land, and with this acknowledgement, we can support and build relationships with native organizations and students,” she said.

Hosting a Native American Heritage Month would give students an avenue to do that, Linsenbardt said.

“It is not only a celebration but meant to acknowledge the genocide and erasure of Native Americans in the U.S.,” she said. “We need to celebrate resistance, celebrate their survival.”

Martinez said cultural observations are to educate the community, and it is imperative that people understand the country is “like a melting pot.”

“If you’re oblivious, then you could accidentally offend people,” he said. “We need to understand other people’s culture so that we can treat those people with respect.”

The next two cultural months observed here are Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March.

The committee for Black History Month, however, is already planning events in celebration of African Americans and their achievements, Martinez said.

Anyone who has ideas for a monthly celebration can contact a committee chair, and they will share the idea to be voted on by the entire committee.

For more information, contact Martinez at 210-486-1208 or email him at jmartinez932@alamo.edu.

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