The Native American and Indigenous Culture Center (NAICC) at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin is giving thanks this time of year for expansion and outreach opportunities it has achieved.
The center’s director, James Pete, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, says the college’s annual Thanksgiving Feast and Convocation Ceremony is just one of many events that raises awareness of Native ways.
“Part of having a Thanksgiving gathering is to try to help people understand the various cultural complexities that we have,” Pete said in a news release. “We want to honor traditions, honor our ancestors, honor the food that’s being provided, honor the people that provide that, as well as be able to socialize with each other in a positive way and create awareness about one aspect of our traditional Anishinaabe lifestyles.”
According to the news release, the center was established in September of 2011 with a $161,383 grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation, which owns 92 percent of Bremer Bank and was created in 1944.
“In the last year, NAICC staff have been hard at work promoting native education and outreach,” says the release. To that end the college has hosted notable tribal speakers like Josephine Mandamin, Ojibway, a grandmother and elder who organized the 2011 Mother Earth Water Walk, and Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe and spiritual leader for the three branches of the Sioux tribe.
“The NAICC staff have sought to encourage and support Native American students and families seeking further [their] education, including four-year degrees,” reports the release. Staff attend festivals, pow wows and conferences all over Wisconsin and nationwide to seek out opportunities for Native students.
“The future of the center is really bright and exciting,” said Katrina Werchouski, coordinator for multicultural programs at Northland College, in the release. “We have student workers in the Native American Indigenous Culture Center that are working on things like helping maintain the Native American Museum on campus and helping us with some of these summits and conferences coming up so they have experience organizing these things and networking and meeting people in the community.”
Center staff are also working on enhancing connections with the region’s tribes, exploring tribal radio programming, expanding community programing and organizing panel discussions to raise awareness of issues facing Native American communities.