Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Celebrating Native American History Month

Nov. 1, 2022

Dear Brandeis Community,

We are excited to announce our recognition and celebration of Native American Heritage Month at Brandeis! While many people see this month as the lead-up to the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving — a time for family reunions and sharing meals — for American Indian/Alaska Native communities, it is a time to honor ancestors and remember the sacrifices they made.

According to the Native American Heritage Month website:

One of the very first proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the "First Americans" and for three years they adopted such a day [1912]. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 "National American Indian Heritage Month." Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including "Native American Heritage Month" and "National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month") have been issued each year since 1994.

Last month, the Brandeis community came together to participate in an Indigenous Peoples Day program at the Brandeis Intercultural Center to highlight their presences, histories and sovereignties. As Evangelina Macias, Allen-Berenson Fellow in Women’'s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, stated so precisely at that event, it is about active support of Indigenous communities and caring for the lands we occupy.

This month, David Shane Lowry, an Indigenous anthropologist and visiting senior fellow in the Heller School, will guide us through a conversation about the long history of genocide, the work of American Indian Peoples to reclaim sovereignty and humanity in the midst of that genocide, and the current work that we must do to deal justly with Indigenous Peoples in the United States. Dr. Lowry will give a talk entitled, "Connected by Genocide: Rethinking History, Presence and Higher Education at Brandeis," at 12 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7, in the Levin Ballroom. In addition, Dr. Macias will present on "Gender & Sexuality in Native American Dance" at 11 a.m. Nov. 15 in the Gender and Sexuality Center located in Usdan.

In addition, we will be seeking the guidance and input of our visiting scholars as we reconvene our collective efforts to create a Land Acknowledgement to honor and offer opportunities to the original inhabitants of what is now called Waltham and where Brandeis is situated. Lastly, please take some time to review our Native American Collections in the Brandeis Library and consider visiting or volunteering at the North American Indian Center of Boston.

In solidarity,

Lee Bitsóí, EdD (Navajo Nation)
Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

David Lowry, PhD (Lumbee Tribe)
Visiting Senior Fellow
Sillerman Center, Heller School