This year UW–Madison is celebrating its 175th anniversary, on land the Ho-Chunk Nation and other tribal nations in Wisconsin have called home since time immemorial. During the past 500 years, Indigenous people have experienced cultural genocide and attempts at eradication and assimilation. Wisconsin is home to 12 Native Nations, some tribal nations of whom were forcibly moved to this state, while others were being moved away from their lands here. The latecomedian and UW alumnus Charlie Hill (Oneida, Mohawke, and Cree) often joked, “My people are from Wisconsin. We used to be from New York. We had a little real estate problem.”
Despite what our communities have experienced, we are here, and we belong to the communities that exist here today. This will be the 10th year of celebrating Native November on this campus.
One thing that has remained a constant light is our humor. Ryan Red Corn (Osage) says, “The American narrative dictates that Indians are supposed to be sad. It’s not really true and it’s not indicative of the community experience itself. … Laughter and joy is very much a part of Native culture.”¹ Laughter itself plays an important role in wellness by bringing people together in a way that promotes healthy emotional and physical reactions in our bodies. This year’s Native November campus theme, “Laughter is Medicine,” is an invitation to look at how humor and laughter have played a role in our healing and resiliency as Indigenous Peoples.
- Nesteroff, Kliph. We Had a Little Real Estate Problem: The Unheralded Story of Native Americans & Comedy
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Get To Know The Designer: Akina Curley
I am a two-spirit Anishinaabe and Diné artist and am currently in my second year of high school as a 15-year-old. With my art, I tend to focus on watercolor and digital art as the two main mediums I use. For around 3 years since 2020, I have been seriously trying to improve art and my skills as an artist, although I have always been interested in art and have been drawing. I only recently took my first actual art class in school last year and am continuing to choose art classes in high school to continue my interest as a character designer and illustrator.
I wanted the logo to have a very happy feeling as the prompt is “laughter is medicine”, with people smiling and laughing in it. The logo shows two indigenous people, one Navajo and the other Ojibwe to express multiple tribes together, laughing in traditional clothing. Around them are strawberry and blueberry, both are staple plants and have relationships in many tribes. Then, to continue there are also sunflowers around the two people as well. Sunflowers are commonly symbolized as a flower that represents happiness which I thought fit the overall art piece and prompt. Finally, surrounding the whole piece is the medicine wheel and the four colors black, yellow, red, and white. It represents a lot of different meanings and ideas but is also medicine which is a very clear picture of the prompt with people laughing and medicine.
Join the conversation on social media using #UWNativeNovember
Other Ways To Get Involved
Special thanks to all of the student organizations that came together to make this month happen.
Questions? Contact us
Indigenous Student Center Coalition (ISCC)
This is the second year we see a coordinated effort among student organizations to provide the campus with various programming through the Indigenous Student Center Coalition (ISCC). The ISCC is still in its beginning stages and is currently made up of Indigenous student organization leaders and the ISC program coordinator. The seven student organizations that are represented on the ISCC and are housed in the Indigenous Student Center include Wunk Sheek, American Indian Science & Engineering Society, Alpha Pi Omega Sorority Inc. – Lambda Chapter, Twin Tails, Indigenous Law Student Association, Tribal Libraries, Archives, & Museums, and the Indigenous Graduate Students.