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Stanford celebrates, recognizes Native American Heritage Month

Friday afternoons are busy at Stanford’s Native American Cultural Center. Students filter in, grab pizza from boxes on a table, and say hi to friends across the room before propping open computers and sinking into the many couches and chairs to work. The room hums with busyness and communal energy and at one point a rendition of “Happy Birthday” breaks out in a corner.

The students are here to prepare for the many events and programs organized by the NACC and the Stanford American Indian Organization. Signature events hosted by the groups include the annual Stanford Powwow, the largest student-run event of its kind, and Native American Heritage Month, held every November.

“This month, we honor and celebrate the many Native and Indigenous faculty, staff, and students who are members of our Stanford community,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. “We also celebrate the university’s relationship with the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, on whose ancestral land the university is located and with whom we partner to better understand and appreciate our shared history in the region. Throughout this month, I encourage all in our community to engage with resources, programming, and events on campus to honor these communities.”

Students say the events held all year, not just during November, are a chance to celebrate and connect with their cultures and share their pride with fellow students and the larger university community.

“We want people to know we’re here, Native people are still here … and there is value in our cultural spaces,” said Jasmine Kinney, a junior and student leader at SAIO.

For Karli Moore, a second-year graduate student and Lumbee Tribe member, November and the forthcoming academic year are also a chance to push for more representation of Native and Indigenous voices in both the student population and university leadership.

“There is a need for intentionality … and I’d love for the university to think about what it would look like to have student voices added in,” Moore said.

As a Knight Hennessy Scholar, Moore is working with peers Jasmyn Burdsall and Carson Smith on a Kheystone Project researching Native graduate student wellness and community. The group is also hoping to revitalize the Stanford Native American graduate student organization and urging the university to continue hiring and supporting Native and Indigenous faculty.

“The fact that there are so few Indigenous faculty members means most graduate students won’t have a Native faculty advisor,” Moore said.

This November, the NACC and SAIO will host several events celebrating and honoring Native American Heritage Month. Visit the NACC website and the SAIO Instagram account throughout the month for additional details.

Interested in learning more? Read about the university’s history with Indigenous and Native communities, including the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, or read the stories of Native and Indigenous alumni, gathered and curated by the SAIO in honor of the organization’s 50th anniversary.