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“We Still Exist” : Native American Students Strive to Educate Others

Native American Culture

Native American Culture | Photo by Brett Hull | The Wright State Guardian

November is Native American Heritage Month and the Association of Native American Students (ANAS) wants to educate people on their culture and history and make it known that they still exist.

A focus on education 

ANAS is hosting several events this month in honor of Native American Heritage Month. Upcoming events include a panel discussion on tribe creation stories on Nov. 16, an ANAS general body meeting on Nov. 17, a special guest speaker event on Nov. 18 and a lecture on the Great Mesoamerican Constructions on Nov. 22. Information for these events can be found on the ANAS Engage page

According to Intercultural Specialist for the Asian and Native American Center Kevin Huang, the goal of these events is to educate the student body on Native American culture and history. 

“A big part is helping folks relearn what they’ve learned. Because a lot of miscommunication or misunderstanding or misidentification of [their] experience happens,” Huang said. 

The Women’s Center is also providing educational opportunities for students during Native American Heritage Month through a series of interactive social media posts. 

For Dr. Nicole Carter, Director of the Women’s Center, education is important because it gives students a better understanding of underrepresented groups. 

Each week of November, the Women’s Center holds conversations on their social media about various topics including body politics and ancestral healing for Native American communities. 

“The goal is to provide an education. I’m big on connecting people to an understanding of more marginalized groups,” Carter said. 

“We still exist”

According to ANAS President Cameron Hendrix, education is also important to let people know that these communities and culture still exist. 

“I think it is very easy for people to assume that Native American cultures are relatively dead. Or that if they do exist they only exist on these far-off reservations that are stricken by poverty and disease and so forth– which they are admittedly, they’re not in good states– but there are still vibrant communities and vibrant cultural groups. That is what we really want to be pushing forward; we still exist, we still have a voice and no matter what we will continue to exist,” Hendrix said. 

For Hendrix, Native American Heritage Month is important because it gives representation and validation to Indigenous people. 

“It provides us a time where we can talk about ourselves and be ourselves after hundreds of years of extermination, oppression and removal. For me personally, having ancestors who walked the Trail of Tears and having ancestors in boarding schools and having their land stolen, it’s important to have validation,” Hendrix said.


One way students can be respectful and mindful during Native American Heritage Month is by being aware of the history of Thanksgiving. Many people celebrate this holiday every year, which Hendrix says is okay, but students should educate themselves and challenge the false narratives that are usually taught in schools. 

“Keep in mind that there are problematic parts of the past of it.We probably shouldn’t glorify its past so much. But that doesn’t mean stop celebrating. Do something about it, either educate people about the real story or just keep that in mind with your own family,” Hendrix said. 

Another way students can be mindful is by using different terminology.

“I know officially we have ‘Thanksgiving Break,’ but some students have been utilizing ‘Harvest Break’ or even just calling it ‘Harvest’ as a means to reclaim that space and that time,” Huang said. 

Hendrix and Huang recognize that Thanksgiving is an important time for many in America as families come together and spend time with each other. Hendrix just asks people to be mindful and to be aware of Native American culture and history when celebrating. 

“Keep in mind that Native American culture still exists, it’s still vibrant, its still here, and do your best to respect that,” Hendrix said.

Alexis Wisler

Managing Editor