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Native American Heritage Month

What is NAHM?

The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York. In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.

Native American Heritage Month is a time to intentionally celebrate the unique, rich, and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of Native peoples while acknowledging the important contributions of Native people. NAHM is also an opportune time to educate the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to overcome these challenges.

At Vanderbilt University, the Student Center for Social Justice & Identity curates a calendar of events related to Native American heritage, featuring programs from across campus and the Nashville community.

The print version of the calendar is available below, or for PDF download please click here: NAHM Calendar 2020.


Please see below for the full list of events in November and to directly access the Zoom Links for any and all programs!

NAHM Kickoff

Date: Monday, November 1st | 10am-4pm
Location: Multicultural Lounge (Sarratt 335)
Join the Student Center for Social Justice and Identity (SCSJI) and the Indigenous Scholars Organization (ISO) in kicking off Native American Heritage Month (NAHM) on Monday, November 1st from 10:00am-4:00pm in the Multicultural Lounge (Sarratt Student Center 335). Let’s celebrate Native and Indigenous culture through great food, fun, and friends!

Reservation Dogs Screening 

Date: Thursday, November 4th | 7pm
Location: Multicultural Lounge (Sarratt 335)
Join the Indigenous Scholars Organization (ISO) in viewing Reservation Dogs, a half-hour comedy show that follows the exploits of four Indigenous teenagers in rural Oklahoma who steal, rob, and save to get to the exotic, mysterious and faraway land of California.

ISO Game Night 

Date: Monday, November 8th | 7pm
Location: Buttrick 309
Come play Cards For Decolonization, an indigenous game, while building community through food and fun with ISO!

A Reading and Discussion with Natalie Diaz

Date: Tuesday, November 9th | 6pm
Natalie Diaz is the award-winning author of two books of poetry: When My Brother Was an Aztec and Postcolonial Love Poem. She is a member of the Gila River Indian Tribe and is Director of the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands and the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University.

Indigenous Identity Roundtable 

Date: Thursday, November 11th | 7pm
Location: Buttrick 309
An open, informal discussion for Indigenous members of the Vanderbilt community to gather and talk about their identities — What does it mean to be Indigenous? How do you navigate feeling not Indigenous enough?

Ask a Mental Health Professional Q&A Session

Date: Friday, November 12th | 1pm
Location: Zoom
Have you ever wanted to ask a counselor or psychologist a mental health related question? Now’s your chance! Join two therapists from the University Counseling Center to discuss mental health in BIPOC communities, strategies for stress management, sleep tips and more!

Indigenous Community Gathering

Date: Wednesday, November 17th | 4:30pm 
Location: SLC Board of Trust
The Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) will be hosting a reception as part of Native American Heritage Month, inviting Native and Indigenous students/faculty/staff and allies to Native communities to mingle and learn more about other programming for the month as well as gathering feedback for new support groups for Indigenous students and employees.

Art of Resistance

Date: Wednesday, November 17th | 7pm
Location: Featheringill Auditorium (Room 134)
ISO’s capstone event for the fall semester! They will be featuring Native artists to perform a piece of art with us (spoken word, dance, song, etc.).

Hot Topics: Native Americans in Sports

Date: Friday, November 19th | 12pm
Location: Zoom
In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, please join the Vanderbilt Sports & Society Initiative for a discussion with five important figures in Native American sports:
• Brent Cahwee, co-founder of
• Rosalie Fish, University of Washington track/cross county & activist
• Rhonda LeValdo, Haskell Indian Nations University & NotInOurHonor
• Lauren Schad, Professional volleyball player & activist
• Natalie Welch, Linfield University & the Sporting Justice Collective

Debunking Thanksgiving

Date: Saturday, November 27th | Time TBD
Location: Zoom (TBD)
Join ISO as they have VU professors talk about the implications of the history of Thanksgiving for Indigenous communities today.

Indigenous EAG Interest Meeting (for Faculty and Staff)

Date: Monday, November 29th | 6pm
Location: Email to RSVP and receive the Zoom link.
A virtual event to discuss the formation of an Indigenous Employee Affinity Group. Employees that identify as Indigenous or Native within a specific geographical location, as well as the parents of children who identify in these groups, other family members, caregivers and friends are encouraged to attend. This meeting is open to all Vanderbilt employees, including staff, faculty, and postdoctoral scholars, regardless of identity. The goal of the listening session is to gather input, ask questions and offer suggestions about how this employee affinity group at Vanderbilt can best serve this community, including creating programming for Indigenous individuals and their families. The meeting will be conducted over Zoom.

Restorative NAHM Feedback Circle

Date: Monday, November 29th | 6pm
Location: Multicultural Community Space
Join SCSJI in a restorative NAHM feedback circle where participants will reflect on the events of Native American Heritage Month and what community means to them!


This Native American Heritage Month, the SCSJI, NATIVe, VAISES and other campus partners are committed to promoting the importance of narratives and storytelling in Native American culture, as well as narrative changes for the Native community at Vanderbilt and the broader Native community at large. The passing down of history and learnings through storytelling is a fundamental cultural practice in Native American cultures. Moreover, the narrative of Native Americans as a vanishing race is one that NAHM aspires to do away with; Native Americans are in fact thriving and existing in modernity in diverse and important ways. This year, NAHM at Vanderbilt looks to amplify the voices of Native peoples and elevate the understated lived realities of Native peoples.

Part of celebrating Native American Heritage Month is acknowledging the historical legacies that the lands our institutions, hometowns, counties, and states are on, hold.

“A Land Acknowledgment is a formal statement that recognizes the unique and enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories.”

Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group, Ontario, Canada

Many institutions across the country have adopted the practice of opening events with a statement of acknowledgement that recognizes the lands longer history, and its significance for Native peoples who lived and continue to live upon the territory, and whose practices and spiritualties were tied to the land and continue to develop in relationship to the land and its other inhabitants today (adapted from University of Alberta).

Land Acknowledgements are a way to offer recognition and respect for the historic relationship Native communities have with land, a step in creating public awareness that dismantles a distorted history that perpetuates the erasure of Native communities and legacies in, as well as contributions to, the nation’s past at large, and inspire on-going action and relationships that support larger truth-telling and reconciliation efforts. 

Want to know more about the historical legacy between

your institution, hometown, county, and Native peoples?

Check out:

Diverse Native America: 

Conversations about Different Careers in Indian Country

Date: Friday, 11/8

Time: 7:00PM CST – 8:00PM CST

Location: Rand Hall (308)

Join NATIVe and VAISES for a panel discussion on the diverse career paths within Indian Country today! We will have a fashion designer, a poet, and a geneticist present to discuss their careers, experiences, and shed light on their diverse experiences.





The Art of Resistance

Date: Tuesday, 11/12

Time: 6:30PM CST – 8:00PM CST

Location: Student Life Center – Ballroom

Join NATIVe for an evening of poetry, traditional song and dance, and story telling for the third annual cultural showcase, Art of Resistance, celebrating Native American Heritage Month.






Native American Women Artists at the Frist

Date: Thursday, 11/14

Time: 5:30PM CST – 8:00PM CST

Location: Student Life Center – Ballroom

Join NATIVe and VAISES for dinner and then a bus ride to the Frist Art Museum to attend at talk by one of the featured artists, Rose B. Simpson.

The first 20 people to RSVP will be able to join NATIVe and VAISES for dinner and a brief conversation at the Women’s Center at 5:20 pm. Then transportation to the Frist will be provided to attend Simpson’s talk at 6:30PM and see the exhibit. The Frist is free for college students on Thursday and Friday evenings from 5-9 pm with your student ID.