During the month of November, Cal Poly’s Multicultural Center, along with the American Indian Student Association (AISA) and American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) will celebrate Native American Heritage Month in hopes of educating other students on campus about their culture.
“One of the purposes (of the month) is to bring cultural awareness to the students who wouldn’t necessarily know about what it means to be Native American or about Native American culture,” said Renoda Campbell, coordinator of programs and services at the Multicultural Center.
While Native American Culture Month is relatively new at Cal Poly, the response from students who participated last year shows that the event is appreciated among the campus community.
“It was very well received by students,” Campbell said. “A lot of students say they have a greater knowledge and greater appreciation of the particular culture for the events they attend.”
AISA and AISES are two campus cultural clubs working together to volunteer and facilitate the upcoming events.
The mission of AISA, which is sponsoring two Native American Heritage Month events, is to help promote multiculturalism and educate students about Native America beliefs, culture and lifestyle. They are continually seeking new members regardless of their backgrounds. AISES focuses on providing opportunities for American Indians and Native Alaskans to study in science, engineering or technology fields.
“(Native American Heritage Month) benefits students because they will be able to understand how people lived before and how we live now in this dominant American culture,” said Joseph Sanchez, aerospace engineering senior and AISA club president. “Students will get a real introduction to Native American culture and what it actually means to be a Native American in the USA and at Cal Poly.”
The theme for Native American Heritage Month is Redefined, because these events are hoped to redefine the Native American community.
“A lot of the time, people think cowboys and Indians and folklore,” Campbell said. “We’re trying to bring a contemporary spin to it.”
“I think it’s important and relevant because we live in Native American territory right here on the Central Coast and it is a particular culture that a lot of people don’t know about,” Campbell added. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of negative images with regards to Native Americans and we want to make sure that there are also positive images throughout the campus and throughout the community.”
Native American Heritage Month will feature several events designed to include all students on campus.
The first event, Soup and Substance, will take place on Nov. 4. Soup and Substance is a monthly campus event designed to give the community an opportunity to discuss current world and local topics. This month’s event will feature Michael Lucas, a professor from the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, who will discuss Native American architecture, including reservations.
Soup and bread will be provided to visitors as they listen and participate in the discussion. It will take place University Union Room 220 at 12 p.m.
On Wednesday, Nov. 12, Allan Salazar, a traditional Chumash storyteller, will lead a discussion about world history and storytelling in today’s world. The discussion will take place in UU Room 221 at 7:30 p.m.
On Nov. 18, Dr. Ines Talamantez, a linguistics and comparative literature professor at the University of California Santa Barbara will speak about Native American religion. The lecture will take place in room 123 in the Bioresource and Agricultural Engineering Building beginning at 7:30 p.m.
On Nov. 20, a screening of the film “Imprint” will bring an end to the Native American celebrated events. “Imprint” is a feature full-length thriller that won best picture, best actress and best supporting actress at the American Indian Film Festival. The film brings contemporary Native American issues to light.
“Imprint” will be shown in the Science Building Room E27 at 7 p.m.