June 21, 2024

Native American Heritage month celebration

November is National Native American Heritage Month. In an effort to honor and celebrate this occasion, the Utah State University Student Association, at Eastern, hosted a Native American Heritage event on Monday, Nov. 27, in the Multipurpose Room. Originally scheduled to start at 5:00 p.m., the event was moved to 6:00 p.m. due to unforeseen circumstances.

USUSA Eastern collaborated with USU Blanding to organize this event. Representatives from USUSA Blanding, including Faith Toglena, and her adviser Shilo Martinez, drove to Eastern to assist with the event and share their culture.

Esi Johnson, USUSA Eastern’s diversity representative, fondly reflected on the collaboration with USUSA Blanding. “I really loved how we brought Blanding to Eastern because it shows the difference in campuses and culture,” she continued. “The point of having this event was to have USU Blanding come down to teach us and show us their culture, as well as include us in the celebration of Native American Heritage Month.”

Upon entering the event, students checked in with a USUSA representative. Here, they were entered into a drawing for a chance to win a large Navajo-patterned blanket or one of two USU Eastern jerseys. Students were then directed to a table near the back of the MPR, where they could scan a QR code and fill out a survey. After completing the survey, students spun a wheel for a chance to win USU Blanding swag.

The event commenced with a short speech by Shilo Martinez. After her speech, students were given the choice between decorating a pot or creating a small medicine shield stamped with the USU bull. Each student made their choice, picked up the necessary supplies, and then sat at one of the multiple tables in the room to complete their craft.

Tables were draped in black tablecloth and adorned with colorful dried corncobs, as well as a picture in a black frame showcasing the hogan located on USU Blanding’s campus.

While students were engaged in their craft, USUSA Blanding representatives were cooking fry bread for Navajo tacos. The fry bread was served immediately after being cooked, instead of in one big batch. Students took turns getting their plates, going up in groups of three or four to receive their meal.

Johnson explained that events celebrating different heritages are not uncommon at USU Eastern. “Part of USUSA is diversity and equity inclusion; they plan all the diversity and inclusion events for our school,” she continued. “We hold an event celebrating each heritage month because it makes our campus more inclusive and educates people on different cultures and ways of life.”

The Center for Diversity and Equity Inclusion focuses on heightening student awareness about different cultures and provides a safe space for equity, social justice, and access for underrepresented groups on campus. The center aims to create an environment of respect, acceptance, and acknowledgment to help each student feel valued. The center is located in the Jennifer Leavitt Student Center, room 208.