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ASU hosts Native American Heritage Month events to celebrate tradition

The events range from sports to arts and take place throughout November 2019

Native American heritage month 2.jpg

The Keli Akimel hua Modk Cudkam (Gila River Basket Dancers) visited ASU in Tempe, Arizona on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019, to perform that the Opening Ceremonies for Native American Heritage Month.

November marks the beginning of Native American Heritage Month, and clubs across many ASU campuses are hosting various events that celebrate Native American heritage.

These events are intended to bring awareness to Native American culture and history. 

"These kinds of events are open to the public, and they are a time for us to share and allow people to understand who we are and what we do," said Jacob Meders, an assistant professor in the School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies.

Nov. 9: Native American Heritage Festival & Pow Wow

Open to everyone, the free event celebrates Native American culture and honors all veterans. There will be food trucks, craft stations and art showings. 

Meders, an adviser for the event, said the event's purpose is to bring people of all cultures and backgrounds together to celebrate Native American heritage.

"If you are native, then it’s about seeing everybody, meeting everybody and talking stories," Meders said. "If you're not native, then it is a time to sit back and learn and understand the Indigenous people’s land."

As one of the committee members of the Pow Wow, Meders said that he tries to bring in other elements of indigenous representation in addition to the Pow Wow.

One of the main events at the festival is the Pow Wow, which is an event that showcases traditional groups of families and dancers. 

The event will be held at the West Campus on the Fletcher Library Lawn from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

"The location is very intimate," Meders said. "It is all very close-knit."

VIDEO: ASU West hosted the 17th Annual Veterans Day Weekend Traditional Pow Wow

Nov. 12: My Culture is Not a Costume 

Hosted by IndiGenius, this event is a discussion based on how people use Native American traditional clothing as costumes. 

Daphne Leonard, a junior majoring in medical studies and the vice president of IndiGenius, said it is important that students come together to discuss how Native American culture has become romanticized and made into costumes or mascots.

"Our overall goal is to bring awareness to the issues that Native Americans face and how those issues were woven into our culture and heritage throughout history," Leonard said. "We would like to educate the public as well as our students because we understand that our students are our future leaders."

The discussion will be held on the Devil's Lair balcony at the West Campus University Center Building from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Nov. 14: Not Thanksgiving 

Hosted by IndiGenius, this event delves into the deeper meaning and history of Thanksgiving.  Dinner will be provided and there will also be performances and dances from different tribes at the event.

"'Not Thanksgiving' is the event that is going to be our big shining moment for our club," Leonard said. "We are going to have sort of like a celebration to take back Thanksgiving." 

The event will be held on the Sun Devil Fitness Center Lawn on the West Campus from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Nov. 22: Rezball or Nothing Viewing Party

Hosted by Live Well @ ASU and American Indian Student Support Services, this event will consist of a basketball tournament plus a viewing party of the Netflix show "Basketball or Nothing" which follows the lives of a basketball team from Chinle, Arizona.

Laura Medina, AISSS student success and retention coordinator and an organizer of the showing, said she is excited for students to watch. 

"We wanted to honor him as well as all of our Rezballers and just creating an event for them," she said. "Basketball is pretty big in our community. "

Kameron Granger, a junior studying exercise and wellness and the facilitator of programming for the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples, said this event is a way to get everyone outdoors. 

"That is one of the teachings for Native Americans," Granger said. "We like to be active and we try to push to keep running and doing basketball and sports." 

The showing will take place at the Tempe Sun Devil Fitness Complex from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Nov. 29-30: Guarding of the “A”

Guarding the "A" is an overnight event to protect "A" mountain the night before the rival game with UA. The event is hosted by the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and the Student Alumni Association.

Kyla Silas, junior studying family and human development and facilitator of membership for the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples, said the second annual "Keep the Resilience" run will also be one of the events.

"Our intent is to show Native American students that it’s not only during November that we are resilient," Silas said. "(It is) going to last throughout years." 

The event will carry through the night, beginning Nov. 29 at 6:30 p.m. and ending the following morning at 6:30 a.m.

Reach the reporter at or follow @AnushaNat1 on Twitter.

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Anusha NatarajanDiversity Officer

Anusha Natarajan is in her third year at ASU studying sociology, history, and political science. She previously served as a reporter for the community and culture desk for four semester and helps with Spanish translation and oversees diversity efforts in the newsroom. 

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