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Nov. 8, 2004


Native American Heritage Month connects community

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—At a time of year when ancestors would have been busy readying food, shelter and clothing for the coming winter, members of the U-M Native American community are preparing for this year's Native American Heritage Month (NAHM), a celebration of indigenous culture and custom.

The genesis of NAHM at U-M can be traced to a concerted student effort in the 1970s that has led to many achievements, including establishment of the Native American Student Association (NASA), the Ann Arbor Dance for Mother Earth Pow Wow, and events in celebration of NAHM. These campus offerings connect U-M Native Americans with each other and with interested non-Native people.

"As in the past, our annual Native American Heritage celebration is a chance to not only bring the Native community together but also to share with the community at large," said Steven Abbott, Native American coordinator at Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs (MESA). "Hopefully the events will bring people together around education and new and exciting ways of understanding issues and culture."

This year's NAHM schedule began last week with a screening of the 1994 Lee Tamahori film "Once Were Warriors," followed by a Fall Feast featuring traditional singing and drumming from the Treetown Singers. Both events were at the William Monroe Trotter House.

Six Nations songwriter and guitarist Derek Miller, whose "Lovesick Blues" garnered a Best Aboriginal Record Award from the 2003 Canadian Juno Awards, will play in the Michigan Union Pendleton Room at 8 p.m. Nov. 12.

Dance music diva Jana will take the stage at Trotter House at 8 p.m. Nov. 20. Her single "Stairway to Heaven" rose to No. 6 on the Billboard charts and was Song of the Year at the 2002 Native American Music Awards.

Jana's performance is presented in conjunction with the Native American Pre-College Festival, Nov. 19-20 at Trotter House. The event is designed to give middle school and high school students an opportunity to prepare for the university admissions process, with a focus on specific Native American issues and opportunities.

Other NAHM highlights include the popular Native American Heritage Day at the Ruthven Exhibit Museum from noon-4:30 p.m. Nov. 20 and several talks by influential Native American scholars and activists. Professor Gavin Clarkson will explore issues related to the use of Native American images as mascots on Nov. 19 at the School of nursing. The time for Clarkson's presentation has yet to be announced.

Organizers also are planning a brown bag luncheon series presented in association with the Office of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Affairs, a keynote speaker near the end of November, and a screening of Roland Joffé's 1986 film "The Mission."  

NAHM events are sponsored by NASA, MESA, the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, Trotter House, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the Native American Law Student Association, and the Native American Public Health Association.

For information on any NAHM event, contact Abbott at or (734) 763-9044. Information will be added to the NAHM Web site as it becomes available. Visit throughout November for updates.

Native American Heritage Month calendar as of 10:00 a.m. Nov. 8 (for updates go here)

Speaker: Keith Harper
7 p.m. Nov. 9
West Hall 411

Keith Harper (Cherokee) will be speaking on recent Indian law cases (Cobell, Hicks, Navajo Nation) at the School of Information.

Speaker: Chief Judge Joseph Martin (cancelled)
11:15-12:45 Nov. 11
Law School, Hutchins Hall

Chief Judge Joseph Martin (Menominee) of the Saginaw Chippewa tribal court will be speaking in Professor Gavin Clarkson's class about the Indian Child Welfare Act and will describe the typical day of a tribal court judge. Open to all.

Film: "Transitions"
Noon Nov. 12
Michigan Union, LGBTA Office

An in-depth look at the historical transformation of a boarding school into a Blackfoot Language Immersion Program.

Concert: Derek Miller
8 p.m. Nov. 12
Michigan Union, Pendleton Room

Award-winning Six Nations singer/songwriter performs with his rock trio. For more on Miller and his music, including, photos, audio and video samples, visit

Film: "Babakiueria"
Noon Nov. 18
Michigan Union, LGBTA Office

Babakiueria is a 'mock-umentary' examining how things in Australia could have developed differently had the roles of the colonizers and the Aborigines been reversed.

Speaker: Professor Gavin Clarkson
Time TBA Nov. 19
School of Nursing

Presentation on the Native American mascot issue.

Information and empowerment: Native American Pre-College Festival
Nov. 19-20
Trotter House

This two-day event presents university admissions and financial aid information and tools designed for Native American middle and high school students.

Concert: Jana
8 p.m. Nov. 20
Trotter House

Jana's chart-topping dance music has been heard by thousands at concerts and clubs, and on television and radio. Jana is also known for her work in motivating young people to further their educations, pursue their dreams and achieve all their potential. Learn more at

Entertainment and education: Native American

Heritage Day
Noon-4:30 p.m. Nov. 20

Exhibit Museum of Natural History

This popular event creates a multi-faceted experience of Native American history and culture for visitors of all ages. Activities include ash basketry demonstrations, a preview of the "Stories My Ancestors Told: Sky Legends of the Three Fires," planetarium show, traditional arts with hands-on projects and storytelling. For a full description, visit

Film: "Winds of Change"
Noon Nov. 22
Michigan Union, LGBTA Office

Winds of Change is a PBS Frontline documentary that examines three different tribal governments and how they enact their ideas of sovereignty.

Film: "The Mission"
7 p.m. Nov. 30
Michigan League Koessler Room

The Mission is a powerful epic about a soldier and a cleric who unite to help shield a Brazilian tribe from the brutality and subjugation by colonial powers in the 18th century. Based on a true story.

Speaker: Dr. Andy Smith
4 p.m. December 1
Location TBA

Film: "Where the Spirit Lives"

7 p.m. Dec. 3
Trotter House

In this acclaimed 1989 film from director Bruce Pittman, a teenage Blackfoot girl is kidnapped—legally, under Canada's laws of the time—and brought south to be educated as a non-Indian in one of the notorious settlement schools run by Christians of the 1940s-50s in Alberta.

Contact: Todd McKinney
Phone: (734) 764-4342