Wake Forest celebrates NAHM

The Intercultural Center planned a slate of programming to honor indigenous culture on campus


Christa Dutton, Staff Writer

November is Native American Heritage Month (NAHM), and the Intercultural Center (IC) has a variety of events planned that will highlight and celebrate Native and Indigenous leadership, values and culture.

The first event of the month took place on Nov. 11, when the IC hosted an event called “My Shelf to Yours”. Students were able to drop by the IC and pick up a book from a curated collection of Native American and Indigenous writings.

Next, on Nov. 15, there was an iLab Lunch and Learn about Wake Forest’s Indigenous Land Acknowledgement, which was codified in 2019.

iLab is a learning lab led by the IC that offers programs like interactive workshops and online resources that are designed to raise cultural awareness. During this event, participants discussed the university-wide land acknowledgment: its intent and how the university plans to move beyond acknowledgment and toward meaningful engagement with Native students, indigenous communities and tribes. 

The IC has also been collaborating with the Office of Sustainability to host “Tohi Talks”, a dialogue series set in the Tohi Garden located behind Angelou Hall. The talks will take place Nov. 16-18 and will dive into some of the most pressing issues in Native American communities, including environmental justice, indigenous climate leadership, land stewardship and the protection of Native American women and girls amidst the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) epidemic.

These talks will also explore how Native people use their own cultural values to approach issues like climate change and interpersonal violence.

All of these events will promote the celebration of Native American culture among those who identify as Native American, as well as those who do not but wish to learn more.

“It is important for the Intercultural Center to promote NAHM to give Native American students, faculty and staff an opportunity to celebrate their culture while simultaneously providing our entire campus community the chance to learn more about Native people, traditions and histories they may not be familiar with,” Savannah Baber, program coordinator for the Intercultural Center, said.   

Junior Mahlea Hunt is a Native student who is a part of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. She deeply appreciates how Wake Forest and the IC are recognizing and celebrating NAHM.

“NAHM is a time for me to celebrate my beautiful culture and heritage with my Native brothers and sisters,” Hunt said. “Wake Forest has created a beautiful and welcoming environment.”

Hunt is excited to attend the IC’s many events, and she is also looking forward to speaking at Salem College about NAHM. Hunt finds it especially important for everyone to have a knowledge of Native American history and culture.

“Many textbooks that are in schools have false information about Native American history and culture,” Hunt said.

Hunt suggested that instead of consuming content from these textbooks, students should read books written by Native American authors and research the cultural practices of Native Americans on tribal websites. She also encourages students to attend a powwow, or an informational session, on Native American history and culture.

The IC’s “My Shelf to Yours” event gave students an opportunity to learn about Native history and values from the Native authors who know those experiences best.

“Overall, I want my peers to understand the importance of NAHM,” Hunt said. “Natives have long suffered through oppression, so NAHM is an important time to recognize how Native Americans have overcome this suffering and to focus on the beautiful heritage and culture we have.”