University of Wisconsin–Madison

#UWNativeNovember Honors Native American Heritage

By: Matt Tragesser, Communications Intern

As Native American Heritage month is celebrated throughout the country this November, UW-Madison will be offering a wide variety of campus events for those looking to learn and become involved more with the Native American community on campus.

Organized by the Division of Student Life, Wunk Sheek, and several more organizations, #UWNativeNovember will feature over a dozen events throughout the month of November including moccasin making workshops, films, and guest speakers.

The schedule for this month is as follows:

Kick Off Feast and Dialogue

  • Wednesday, November 1, 7:00 PM (MSC Lounge)

Moccasin Making Workshop

  • Friday, November 3, 7:00 PM (American Indian Student & Cultural Center/215 N Brooks)

Environmental Film Festival

  • Friday, November 3 to Sunday, November 5 (Visit nelson.wisc.edu for more information)

Indigenous Food Workshop

  • Monday, November 6, 6:30 PM (The Crossing/1127 University Ave)

Indigenous Grad Panel

  • Wednesday, November 8, 7:30 PM (Union South)

Beading Workshop Part 1

  • Tuesday, November 14, 6:00 PM (Dejope Hall)

Dr. Benally Thompson

  • Thursday, November 16, 5:30 PM (Mechanical Engineering/Rm 1106)

Writer and Poet Tanaya Winder

  • Tuesday, November 28, 6:30 PM (Memorial Union/Frederic March Play Circle)

Beading Workshop Part 2

  • Wednesday, November 29, 6:00 PM (Dejope Hall)

“While the month generally brings in mostly students of native backgrounds, students of non-native backgrounds are becoming more involved and interested in the month,” says Gabe Javier, the assistant dean of students and director of the Multicultural Student Center.

“I think that there have been more students of non-Native backgrounds showing interest in Native November events. More and more we are educating people about the ancestral land on which the University sits and the rich history and contributions our Native students, staff, and faculty make to our campus,” said Javier.

One of the most influential groups behind the planning of #UWNativeNovember has been Wunk Sheek, an organization that helps its members obtain a better understanding of indigenous issues, culture, and history on campus and remains a popular resource for the UW-American Indian population on campus.

According to Aaron Bird Bear, the assistant dean for Student Diversity Programs in UW-Madison’s School of Education, “Wunk Sheek started in the early 1970s. The first two early iterations were known as the Wisconsin American Indian Student Movement (WAISM) and the Coalition of Red Nations (CORN), before finally settling into Wunk Sheek, or the Ho-Chunk language word spelled Waaksik for ‘human being.’”

Despite making up a small percentage of the UW-Madison student population, the Native American student body still finds Wunk Sheek to be a useful organization.

“Notably, there are approximately 330 self-identified American Indian/Alaska Native students at UW-Madison today, of which only one-third are from Wisconsin Indian Nations. From this population, Wunk Sheek usually has 15-30 American Indian students or about 10% of the total Native American undergraduate students on campus,” Bird Bear said.

Aside from the month of November, Wunk Sheek continues to highlight and spread awareness of Native American heritage by hosting workshops and programs to educate and inform individuals at UW-Madison and around the Madison community.

Most notably, the organization has helped create the American Indian Student and Cultural Center and was also involved in starting Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Madison in 2005 and Dane County in 2007, including Bird Bear.

With over a dozen events to attend this month, there will be plenty of opportunities to learn and interact with one of the campus’s most distinguished communities.

For more history on Native American Heritage Month in Wisconsin, please visit:

https://diversity.wisc.edu/uw-madison-celebrates-native-american-heritage-month/

For more information on dates and times of events occurring this month, please visit: https://www.wisc.edu/native-november/