Millikin’s First Ever Native American History Month

Emily Chudzik, Staff Writer

This November, the Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement is hosting a number of events for Native American History Month. This is the first time Millikin has recognized November as such. “Our office is in charge of cultural programming. We want people to see beyond what they’re used to and aware of every day,” said Molly Berry, director of Inclusion and Student Engagement. Hispanic History Month just wrapped up, and each event planned was successful and informative.

There will be four events to attend throughout the month. On Monday, Nov. 4th at 6:00pm there will be a “Cake and Current Events” night in the Parquet Room of LRTUC. Dining services will make a large cake for everyone to enjoy while discussing the night’s topic, Native American cultural figures as athletic mascots. “You would never see a ‘Jew’ or a ‘Chinaman’ as a mascot, because in our culture we would consider that racist. Yet we have teams like the Cleveland Indians,” explained Berry. Most recently, a number of tribes in the area near the Washington Red Skins were upset by the overt racism that their mascot embodies. “The theme of the night is ‘how would you want your identity to be identified?’” disclosed Berry.

Then at noon on Thursday, Nov. 7, the dining staff will be walking around Wornick Dining Hall asking Native American trivia questions. “They’re relatively easy, cultural trivia questions that you can win prizes for if you answer correctly,” said Berry.

On Monday, Nov. 18th at 12:00pm in the Parquet room, there will be a “Food for Thought” with the Pawnee Nation. “I am most excited about this one,” Berry said, smiling. “They are coming all the way from Oklahoma to give a presentation on their culture. Millikin has worked with them before, they’re great. They’re going to show off artifacts, how they dress, and even perform an authentic ceremony,” explained Berry. There will be free lunch provided to all who come.

Finally, on Monday, Nov. 25th at 6:00pm in LRTUC, archaeologist Bill Iseminger will talk about the rise and fall of the Cahokia people that were found in southern Illinois. “When you’re ever headed to St. Louis, you’ll notice these big mounds off the side of the road. They’re the Cahokia mounds, and they are a Native American burial ground. The Native American city that used to exist there was the largest city north of Mexico City. There were about 25,000 people who lived there, which is pretty impressive to think about,” conveyed Berry.

There are a few students at Millikin who identify as having a Native American background, some stronger than others. “It’s funny, because I was talking to someone about how I was excited that we were doing Native American History Month, and they asked, ‘Oh, do you have a lot of Native American students?’ And I said, ‘No, not very many. But even if we had zero, I would still want to do it, because I think it’s important to learn about them,’” Berry asserted.

The desired end goal is for students to benefit from each other and to learn about a different culture. “My hope is that people won’t be afraid to learn something new!” Anyone can come and be better informed. You don’t have to be Native American to learn about their history.