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Annual NAII Events

Information about major annual events around Native American and Indigenous initiatives.

American Indian Day & Welcome Back Lunch

The state of Illinois recognizes the final Friday in September as American Indian Day. Northwestern celebrates by holding a lunch to welcome new and returning students, faculty, and staff. The 2023 American Indian Day & Welcome Reception was held on Friday, September 29, 2023, following University and CDC safety protocols. 

Indigenous Peoples Day

In 2016, Mayor Elizabeth Tishdahl issued an official proclamation to support of the creation of Indigenous Peoples' Day in Evanston, Illinois on the second Monday of October. In 2023, Indigenous Peoples Day was celebrated on Monday, October , 2023.

Campus partners host activities and events that celebrate and honor the many Indigenous, Native, and First Nation peoples from across the country and the world. The Northwestern campus sits on the traditional homelands of the Council of Three Fires Nations, which includes the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi.

It is within Northwestern's responsibility as an academic institution to disseminate knowledge about Native peoples and the institution's history with them. 

Native American Heritage Month

Starting in 2014, Northwestern began celebrating Native American Heritage Month in the month of November. Programs and events throughout the month honor Indigenous Peoples' history and past, celebrate its present and future, engage the diversity and complexity of lived experiences within communities, and raise awareness and visibility for these communities across campus.

For more information, visit Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion website

Sand Creek Massacre Commemoration

Planned in partnership with NAISA (Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance), the Sand Creek Massacre commemoration is held annually in mid-November to honor the Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples who were killed by United States soldiers during an attack of their village. This event is free and open to the campus community. In 2022, the Commemoration will be acknowledged through a 3-part series on the first three Thursdays of November from 3:00 - 5:00 pm. Activities will include a film screening, making activity, procession and fire.   

Visit here to learn more about the Sand Creek Massacre. 

Sand Creek Spiritual Healing Walk/Run

Every year, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion (OIDI) and the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR) sponsor the travel for at least 3 students and 1 faculty/staff person to attend the attend the annual Sand Creek Spiritual Healing Walk/Run in Colorado. In addition, OIDI provides sponsorship support towards the planning of the event and travel for Cheyenne and Arapaho youth to participate in the Walk/Run. After the COVID pandemic, the gathering has This year's gathering will likely take place virtually with more details forthcoming. Northwestern still plans on supporting the planning efforts. 

NAISA Spring Pow Wow

A traditional pow wow hosted by the Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance (NAISA) in collaboration with Multicultural Student Affairs and several Northwestern partners. The first annual pow wow was held at the Welsh-Ryan Arena in 2022. The third annual pow wow was held on April 27, 2024 back at the Welsh-Ryan Arena. This event is free and open to the public. 

Visit the Multicultural Student Affairs website to learn more about the NAISA Pow Wow. 

Native American & Indigenous Community Dinner

Hosted by Multicultural Student Affairs and the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, the Native American and Indigenous Community dinner is an annual spring event to gather in community to share and recognize the yearly contributions of Native and Indigenous students, faculty, staff, and community members whom ensure Northwestern University is a welcoming and inclusive place for Native and Indigenous Peoples. This year's event was held on Sunday, May 19, 2024. 

CNAIR Annual Research Symposium

Starting in 2019, the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research holds an annual symposium in the spring that features undergraduate and graduate fellows, along with CNAIR affiliates who share their work from the past year. This year's Symposium was held on May 16-17, 2024.