Colgate Celebrates Indigenous Heritage

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In anticipation and celebration of Indigenous Heritage Month 2023, Colgate organized a busy calendar of events. Throughout October, Colgate hosted Native American Studies (NAST) lectures, film screenings, and the highly anticipated Indigenous Nations Festival. The celebration continued in November with a fry bread tasting, beading circle and loom beading class, Navajo cooking class, and more. 

Kicking off the celebration on Indigenous Peoples Day, Oct. 9, students gathered at the ALANA Cultural Center for a special screening of Reservation Dogs. Attendees were treated to traditional dishes, including authentic green chile pork posole, Three Sisters Stew, and chili beans, providing a taste of Navajo cuisine alongside the showing.

The following week, the Native American Studies (NAST) department ​hosted a talk with Akomawt Educational Initiative co-founder Chris Newell of the Wabanaki Confederacy. Newell shared insights into his work in Indigenous filmmaking and collaboration, drawing from his experiences as a member of the Mystic River Singers pow-wow drum group and his work on the 1988 film Naturally Native. The lecture focused on equitable portrayals of Native peoples in filmmaking, offering a valuable perspective on the intersection of art and respectful Indigenous representation.

The NAST department continued its programming by welcoming Chief Michael Odette and artist Elder Catherine Tammaro to Colgate for a presentation on Indigenous education in the Wyandot of Anderdon Nation. In conversation with each other and the audience, the two shared valuable insight into how the Wyandot community has upheld and disseminated its traditional knowledge and culture in the face of colonialism, emphasizing the importance of preserving traditions and stories.

“I am interested in legacy building, not only for myself as a personal project but also as a legacy about our people,” Tamarro explained. 

Colgate concluded the first month of celebration with an Indigenous Nations Festival on Oct. 21. The festival, honoring the diversity of Indigenous cultures, attracted members of the Colgate community and Madison County residents. Attendees immersed themselves in Indigenous voices, stories, and experiences through song, dance, artwork, and conversation.

Vendors at the festival offered an array of Indigenous-made items, from intricate beaded dresses and hand-painted prints to jewelry and herbal medicine. Performances included a Haudenosaunee dance and cooking demonstration, hoop dancers, a photography panel, a hand drum performance, a pow-wow dance demonstration from Newell, and presentations from Triquis Sin Fronteras, an immigration rights advocacy group established by the Triqui People of Western Oaxaca in Mexico.