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Native American and Indigenous Heritage Month

For Native American and Indigenous Heritage Month 2021, we are using the knowledge embedded in a birch bark canoe to rekindle relationships with land, place, and each other. The canoe represents a connection to the natural world as it glides upon the water, carrying people, items, knowledge, stories, culture, and resilience into the future. It takes Indigenous knowledge and community working together to build a canoe. We encourage participants to consider their commitments, values, and relationships to place, water, more-than-humans, community, ancestors, and descendants as they engage with programming throughout month.

This year we are continuing to celebrate 30 Days of Indigenous. Everyday throughout the month of November is an opportunity to discover ways to be in relations with, advocate for, and support Native and Indigenous communities.

Come to an event listed below or, on days when there isn't an event, engage with our social media ( to join us in celebrating Indigenous Peoples!



30 Days of Indigenous Events

Land Acknowledgement


According to, a Land Acknowledgement is “a formal statement that recognizes and land-acknowledgement-poster.pngrespects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories.”

“To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose territory you reside on, and a way of honoring the Indigenous people who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial. It is important to understand the long-standing history that has brought you to reside on the land, and to seek to understand your place within that history. Land acknowledgements do not exist in a past tense, or historical context: colonialism is a current ongoing process, and we need to build our mindfulness of our present participation. It is also worth noting that acknowledging the land is Indigenous protocol.” (

Northwestern University

Northwestern is a community of learners situated within a network of historical and contemporary relationships with Native American tribes, communities, parents, students, and alumni. It is also in close proximity to an urban Native American community in Chicago and near several tribes in the Midwest.

The Northwestern campus sits on the traditional homelands of the people of the Council of Three Fires, the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Odawa as well as the Menominee, Miami and Ho-Chunk nations. It was also a site of trade, travel, gathering and healing for more than a dozen other Native tribes and is still home to over 100,000 tribal members in the state of Illinois.

It is within Northwestern's responsibility as an academic institution to disseminate knowledge about Native peoples and the institution's history with them. Consistent with the University's commitment to diversity and inclusion, Northwestern works towards building relationships with Native American communities through academic pursuits, partnerships, historical recognitions, community service and enrollment efforts.

Tribe Name Pronunciations:  

Ojibwe: Oh-JIB-way 

Potawatomi: Pot-tah-WAH-tah-mee 

Odawa: Oh-DAH-wah 

Menominee: Muh-NOM-uh-nee 

Miami: My-Am-E 

Ho-Chunk: HOH- Chuhngk 

Native American Heritage Month 2020

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, we invite you to help spread awareness and reflection on Northwestern’s place in relation to the land and  

We invite you to offer a land acknowledgement in your workspace in whatever form is meaningful to you. You can offer a land acknowledgement at the beginning of a meeting or an event you are hosting. We have designed a flyer specifically for this occasion that we invite you to print or post wherever you’d like- in your department or building space (if you’re currently physically on campus), in your e-mail signature, on your website’s homepage. We even have a virtual zoom background that you can download and use. Please visit our land acknowledgement webpage here for all of this information.  If you’d like more resources for learning about land acknowledgements, you can visit this website: 

Design description:  

Long before skyscrapers and more recent city life spread across the region, these Indigenous Nations have been in relationship with the land and, with that, carry responsibilities. As a small snapshot of life and the landscape then, you can see a canoe resting along the shore of Lake Michigan, surrounded by pine trees. Canoes, made often times using birch bark, are representative of the historic and sustained presence of Indigenous peoples in the Great Lakes area, prior to the arrival of settlers and continued to this day. Adorning the lake are wild rice and wild onion, both of which hold a special place within each tribe. The onion plant is native to the Chicago area and can be attributed to its naming. Wild rice is a sacred plant and food to Great Lakes tribes, tied to migration stories. Wild rice, which is actually a grain and not a rice, is highly nutritious but has been threatened by fracking, pipelines, mines, and proposed genetic engineering. Both plants represent this area, food sovereignty, subsistence, and treaty rights. 
Today, Indigenous peoples continue to protect and remain in relationship with these relatives and will do so until the end of time. It is vital to honor these beginnings and recognize the ongoing dedication and importance of Indigenous culture within our communities and within the land that we gather, live, learn and work on. 

Nov 2 - Sand Creek Massacre Commemoration - Making Activity

  • Time:  6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Location: Deering 208
In the spirit of healing, the Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance (NAISA), Multicultural Students Affairs (MSA), and Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion (OIDI) invites our community to reflect on Northwestern's role in supporting the healing efforts of Cheyenne and Arapaho communities. Join us in a 3-part series to learn about the massacre and Northwestern’s place in this history. 

Join us in one or all three events.

Click here to watch the film Only the Mountains to hear stories and accounts from descendants of the massacre and be sure to engage with the Reflection Guide.

Nov 4 - Indigenous Disruptions: How Indigenous Self-Determination Practices Can Deepen and Expand International Theory

  • Time: 5:00 PM - 6:15 PM
  • Location: McCormick Foundation Center
  • Description: Join us as Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot discusses her work in international relations theory, uncovering the erasure that occurs as Indigenous peoples are viewed through the Eurocentric assumptions that ground orthodox theory and revealing the conceptual complexity that can be created as Indigenous self-determination is emphasized. 

Nov 5 - Native American and Indigenous Family Weekend Welcome

  • Time: 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
  • Location: Parkes 120
MSA and NAISA invite families to join us for an opportunity to extend our community beyond campus. Join us as we get to know each other, enjoy refreshments, and making corn husk dolls (no experience required).

Nov 6 - First Nations Film and Video Festival presents shorts by the Bawaadan Collective

  • Time: 1:00 PM
  • Location: The Block Museum of Art
  • RSVP
Block Cinema hosts a program of the First Nations Film and Video Festival, a longstanding Chicago Festival that advocates for the work of contemporary Indigenous-made cinema in its many forms, with curation by FNFVF’s director, Ernest M. Whiteman III, who will be in attendance. This program features a selection of short films by the Bawaadan Collective, self-described as “a group of like-minded Indigenous artisans and accomplices who are interested in continually developing our collaborative approaches to modern artistic, storytelling and film production processes.” 

This event is presented in partnership with the Northwestern University Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance.

Nov 8 - Indigenous Reading Series

  • Time: 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
  • RSVP: Closed

The Indigenous Reading Series is an MSA program that centers Indigenous thinking and perspectives through reading and discussion.  Join us as we engage in collective reflection and meaning-making in order to find our places in decolonial movements. Sign-up for MSA's newsletter to learn more about Winter Quarter's sign-ups. 

Nov 9 - The State of Native America Panel Discussion-Native American Journalists Association-Medill Milestone Achievement Award

  • Time: 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Location: Medill Forum in the McCormick Foundation Center
  • RSVP
Join us for a lively discussion about the state of Native America with the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) and Medill Milestone Achievement Award recipients Lori Edmo and Tom Arviso Jr. and Melodi Serna, Executive Director of the American Indian Center of Chicago. The conversation will be moderated by Patty Loew, Medill Professor and Director of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research at Northwestern.

The award recognizes an individual who has had a lasting effect on media to the benefit of Indigenous communities. Given by NAJA and Medill, the award celebrates and encourages responsible storytelling and journalism in Indian Country.

Nov 10 - Sky Hopinka Lecture: Channeling Indigenous Histories

  • Time: 6:00 PM
  • Location: The Block Museum of Art
  • RSVP

The multidimensional work of artist Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk Nation/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians) employs video, photography, music, and poetry as different pathways approaching Indigenous experience. In his two-channel video installation, Cloudless Blue Egress of Summer (2019) – on view alongside Who Says, Who Shows, What Counts: Thinking about History with The Block’s Collection – image, sound, and text together tease out legacies of colonial oppression and Native resistance.

In this program, Hopinka will discuss the many facets of his practice, joined in conversation by Pick-Laudati Curator of Media Arts Michael Metzger.

Nov 11 - Smudge Ceremony

  • Time: 12:00 PM
  • Location: Multicultural Center
Smudging is the practice of burning sage and/or other medicines for cleansing, purifying, and healing purposes. Join us for a smudging ceremony led by a Northwestern community member. It is a chance to come together as a community to center our hearts and minds. Students, faculty, and staff are all welcome to attend. 

Nov 13 - małni—towards the ocean, towards the shore

1:00 PM
Location: The Block Museum of Art

This debut feature by artist Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians) begins as a work of experimental portraiture, bringing us into the lives of Jordan Mercier and Sweetwater Sahme, two Native residents of the Pacific Northwest. In conversations (held in both English and Chinuk Wawa) and travels with the filmmaker, Sahme and Mercier contemplate questions of parenthood and identity. Around these intimate encounters, Hopinka constructs a visionary meditation on community, landscape, language, and myth, marked by his distinctive sense of color, sound, and movement. malni—towards the ocean, towards the shore made available courtesy of Grasshopper Films

Nov 17 - Thirza Cuthand NDN Survival Trilogy, Screening and Lecture

  • Time: 7:00 PM
  • Location: The Block Museum of Art
  • RSVP

Plains Cree/Scots artist Thirza Cuthand explores queer sexuality, Indigenous identity, and forms of personal and collective crisis in her defiantly DIY videos, performances, and autobiographical writings. For this program, Cuthand will appear in person to introduce and discuss her "NDN Survival Trilogy,” a recent series of videos that address the impacts of colonialism, resource extraction, and climate change through the artist’s distinctly intimate and irreverent voice. Presented in conjunction with Northwestern’s Art, Theory and Practice department, the Climate Crisis and Media Arts working group, and One Book One Northwestern.

Nov 17 - Harvest Indigenous Discussions

  • Time: 5:30pm – 7:00PM
  • Location: Parkes 120
Harvest Indigenous Discussions is an opportunity to gather in community and discuss all things Indigenous. This discussion series centers Native and Indigenous perspectives through shared learning and conversation. All are welcome to participate.

Nov 19 - Sand Creek Massacre Commemoration - Procession and Fire

In the spirit of healing, the Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance (NAISA), Multicultural Students Affairs (MSA), and Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion (OIDI) invites our community to reflect on Northwestern's role in supporting the healing efforts of Cheyenne and Arapaho communities. Join us in a 3-part series to learn about the massacre and Northwestern’s place in this history. 

Join us in one or all three events.

Click here to watch the film Only the Mountains to hear stories and accounts from descendants of the massacre and be sure to engage with the Reflection Guide.

Nov 22 - Beading as Storytelling

MSA x NAISA x Wild Roots invite you to participate in a beading workshop that will involve a hands-on tutorial and that will discuss the relationship between this artistic practice and its inherent ties to Indigenous Caribbean, Yoruba, and KiKongo people. This event will be led by Jalen Kobayashi aka Jaefkae, a mystic, from the Northwestern side of Chicago. 

Whether you are participating in-person or remotely please RSVP to ensure you receive beading supplies. This event will be capped at 30 people.