October Is Indigenous Peoples’ Month at Dartmouth

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Events will include a harvest dinner, a frybread contest, and a writers’ workshop.

Framing the Green, this inuksuk, or "likeness of a person," was built by hand with stones from a field in Haverhill, N.H.,
Framing the Green, this inuksuk, or “likeness of a person,” was built by hand with stones from a field in Haverhill, N.H., for Dartmouth by Peter Irniq, former Commissioner of Nunavut, the newest, largest, and most northerly territory of Canada. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

It’s Indigenous Peoples’ Month at Dartmouth, and the Native American Program (NAP) is hosting a variety of celebrations—many new this year. 

Student organizers from NAP, Native Americans at Dartmouth (NAD), and Hokupa’a, the Hawaiian club, are working together to present a harvest dinner, a pig roast, a creative writing workshop, a film, a panel on climate change, a fashion and art showcase, a frybread baking contest, a hula dance class, and a cooking lesson featuring Spam musubi, a Hawaiian snack made from Spam, rice, and nori.

“To me, Indigenous Peoples’ Month is all about representation,” says Shelbi Fitzpatrick ’19, NAP’s new assistant director. “I get to celebrate who I am and share that with Dartmouth. There are so many Indigenous students here with different affiliations, and we want to make opportunities to share all those identities and to honor Native people who have made and continue to make positive contributions to the world.”

“The Native and Indigenous community at Dartmouth is diverse, and that is truly represented in the variety of events scheduled this month,” says NAP director Sarah Palacios. “And while most people have had the opportunity to observe Indigenous celebrations like powwow, the events hosted this month are an opportunity for all members of the Dartmouth community to participate.”

Distinguished guests coming to campus include Aaluk Edwardson ’12, an Iñupiaq/Norwegian artist and writer who is on the scriptwriting team for the new animated children’s program, Molly of Denali, produced by WGBH in Boston. Edwardson will also lead “Creative Decolonization@Dartmouth College: A Student Creative Writing Retreat in Wellness and Indigeneity,” from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, in the Dartmouth Outing Club House on Occom Pond.

The following evening, there will be a screening of Molly of Denali at 7:30 p.m. at Loew Auditorium in the Black Family Visual Arts Center.

Edwardson will also participate in a panel discussion, “Understanding Climate Change Through Storytelling, Policy, Culture, and Art,” at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, in Haldeman 041. The other panelists are Melody Burkins, Sabena Allen ’20, and Maleah Wenzel ’20.

Creativity will be on display at the NAD Fashion and Art Showcase, held in collaboration with two other student groups, Queer & Still Here, and the Beading Circle. It begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, in One Wheelock.

And there will be a traditional feast. The imu pig roast, new this year, happens all day Thursday, Oct. 17—participants will be asked to help out—at the organic farm.  The pork will be served at the community harvest dinner, with fresh produce from Riverview Farm in Plainfield, N.H., starting a 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Native American House.

“Although this month is a celebration, it’s also an opportunity to increase awareness of issues, such as the alarming numbers of Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit peoples who are missing or have been murdered,” says Palacios.

Elsa Armstrong ’20 is helping to plan a show of solidarity on the Green. “We’ll provide a space to learn about this social injustice and to honor the lives we have lost, including Nicole Redhorse ’95, who was sexually assaulted and killed in Colorado in 2007,” she says.  

Selena Neptune-Bear ’20, who with Armstrong co-chairs the Indigenous Peoples’ Month committee, says the demonstration, featuring two speakers, begins at 3:15, when many students will be crossing the Green between classes. “We want to draw attention to this serious problem,” she says.

In addition to NAP, Indigenous Peoples’ Month is co-sponsored by Dartmouth’s Special Events and Program Committee, in partnership with the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, the Sustainability Office, and Hopkins Center for the Arts. To learn more, and register for space-limited activities, visit the event website.

Charlotte Albright can be reached at charlotte.e.albright@dartmouth.edu.

Charlotte Albright