Native November: Celebrating Native and Indigenous people at UW–Madison

Celebrating #UWNativeNovember: A historic flag-raising, ‘crafternoons’, and a new position dedicated to supporting Native and Indigenous students

By Emma Gran

Happy National Native American Heritage Month, Badgers!

On our campus and across the United States, the month of November is dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the remarkable heritage, culture, and accomplishments of Native and Indigenous peoples.

This year’s Native American Heritage Month celebration is marked by the historic raising of the Ho-Chunk Nation flag on campus, events strengthening our community’s knowledge of Native nations, and several engagement opportunities with Bobbi Skenandore, the Multicultural Student Center’s new program coordinator for Native and Indigenous students.

During #UWNativeNovember, and for the first time in the history of the university, the Ho-Chunk Nation flag will fly above Bascom Hall on campus. All members of our campus are encouraged to Ho-Chunk Nation representatives for this once in a lifetime opportunity to see history being made at 10 a.m. on Friday, November 5. Check out the entire list of events and full details here.

The campus of UW–Madison itself sits on the ancestral lands of the Ho-Chunk Nation, on a place their nation has called Teejop (day-JOPE) but were forced to cede in an 1832 treaty. Today, UW–Madison respects the inherent sovereignty of the Ho-Chunk Nation, along with the eleven other First Nations of Wisconsin.

Throughout this heritage month, Native and Indigenous peoples studying, teaching, or working on campus, can connect with resources, organizations, and events to explore and celebrate their valued identities.

Notably, the American Indian Student and Cultural Center (AISCC), located at 215 North Brooks Street, is a space for Native student groups, academic services, and cultural events. The AISCC houses several student-run organizations, including Wunk Sheek, Ojibwe language group, Wunk Sheek Drum, Alpha Pi Omega Sorority, and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.

Supporting the daily operations of the AISCC is Bobbi Skenandore, who joined the Multicultural Student Center (MSC) team as the inaugural program coordinator for Native and Indigenous students in October.

Skenandore, who is a Class of 2016 UW–Madison graduate and the UW representative for the Big 10 Native Alliance, is excited to connect and collaborate with students in her new role.

“Students have always been and continue to be my motivation,” Skenandore said. “So, what drew me to this role was being able to support Native students in a new way. It just seemed like the right fit.”

Previously, Skenandore worked at UW–Madison’s Information Technology Academy, where she served as associate outreach specialist, helping high school students in tribal communities gain skills and experiences to prepare them for life after high school whether that be college or the workforce.

Inaugural position supports Native and Indigenous students
As the inaugural program coordinator for Native and Indigenous students, Skenandore will develop and oversee culturally relevant programs and initiatives that support this student population, including daily operations of the AISCC house and Mecha de UW–Madison house, located at 206 Bernard Court.

She is looking forward to building connections with students and members from Native and Indigenous organizations, understanding their needs and goals, and assisting them in any way possible.

“I want to figure out how best to support Native students and strengthen the programs UW has now,” she said. “I also always want to be an advocate in spaces where Native and Indigenous students are not always included.”

Skenandore is employing a seventh-generation mindset in her work. Seventh-generation is an Indigenous principle that states we should make decisions about how we live today based on how those decisions will impact the future seven generations.

With this in mind, she hopes to strengthen collaboration between the many pockets of Native and Indigenous support services and programming throughout campus so they can continue to grow and thrive for years to come.

Though Skenandore’s passion lies in supporting students, hearing a good joke can instantly brighten her day.

“Laughter is the best medicine in my opinion, so a good joke and good laugh will always make my day better,” she said.

Her primary office will be located at the AISCC, and she will also have an office space on the 2nd floor of the Red Gym. If you have a funny joke to share, be sure to stop by!

Celebrating #UWNativeNovember at UW
Since November was designated a heritage month in 1990, the University of Wisconsin–Madison has dedicated November to recognizing and celebrating Native and Indigenous Americans who deeply enrich the quality and character of our nation and campus.

To honor #UWNativeNovember, Wunk Sheek, an organization that serves students of indigenous identity and members of UW–Madison community interested in Indigenous issues, culture, and history, along with campus partners are hosting a series of events across the university to celebrate the rich history, heritage, and achievements of Native and Indigenous people at UW–Madison.

Kicking off the celebratory month is the CHE Environmental Colloquium on November 1 at 12 p.m.  Hosted by assistant professor Jen Rose Smith, who teaches in the American Indian Studies Program and Department of Geography, this online event will explore critical Native Studies approaches to thinking about race, indigeneity, and coloniality.

On two Thursdays during the month, November 4 and again on November 18, the AISCC will be offering its space from 1 to 4 p.m. to any student interested in meeting Skenandore or learning more about the center. These ‘crafternoons’ are a great way to build community, work on any project you have, and get to know Bobbi Skenandore!

For additional ways to celebrate #UWNativeNovember, aside from joining campus events, attend the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Educational Achievement (DDEEA) online speaker series or community events, and learn more about federal events and resources. Regardless of how you choose to pay tribute to Native November, continue to honor the rich history, heritage, and achievements of Native and Indigenous people at UW–Madison.