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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!

Native American Heritage Month Kickoff with the Indigenous Scholars Organization

What: Kick off Native American Heritage Month with the Indigenous Scholars Organization via Zoom

When/Where: Thursday, November 5th; 5PM

Who: Indigenous Scholars Organization

Zoom Link Forthcoming!

Social Media: Art of Resistance

What: The Indigenous Scholars Organization will be highlighting a variety of Native American artists and art forms throughout the month of November, and feature some Q&A with the artists. Join the celebration and conversation on their Instagram!

When/Where: @indigenousatvandy

Who: Indigenous Scholars Organization

Social Media: Women’s Center

What: Join the Women’s Center

When/Where: @vuwomenscenter

Who: Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center at Vanderbilt

Social Media: LGBTQI Life

What: Join the office of LGBTQI Life

When/Where: @vulgbtqilife

Who: Vanderbilt LGBTQI Life

Social Media: Healing through our Heritage: A Conversation with the UCC

What: Join the Student Center for Social Justice and Identity and the University Counseling Center for a conversation on Instagram (and a featured IGTV video) on healing practices and taking care of your mental health, in celebration and support of the Native/indigenous community at Vanderbilt. Check out the insta handles below for more info!

When/Where: @scsji_vanderbilt; @vandycounseling

Who: The Student Center for Social Justice and Identity, University Counseling Center

Mini Art Exhibition: Mackinac Island Band Surnames on the 1870 and 1908 Durant Roll

What: Join the Student Center for Social Justice and Identity as we showcase the work of Vanderbilt’s Professor Jana Harper. View the specific art piece Makinac Island Band Surnames on the 1870 and 1908 Durant Roll in our Multicultural Lounge (Sarratt 335). Make sure to RSVP on AnchorLink!

When: Sarratt Multicultural Lounge, (335)






Who: The Student Center for Social Justice and Identity


Indigenous Scholars Organization: General Body Meeting

What: Join the Indigenous Scholars Organization for their November General Body meeting on zoom and find out what’s going on in the organization, how you can support ISO and get involved, and how you can continue celebrating NAHM even after November!

When/Where: Tuesday, November 10th; 8PM

Who: Indigenous Scholars Organization

Zoom Link Forthcoming!

Meditation w/ the Center for Student Wellbeing: NAHM Edition

What: Relax and practice mindfulness as the Center for Student Wellbeing leads a meditation as part of NAHM 2020!

When/Where: Thursday, November 12th; 1:15PM-1:45PM

Who: Center for Student Wellbeing

Access ZOOM Link HERE

Student Leadership Writing Workshop

What: Join the Office of Student Leadership as the engage students in a reflective writing workshop to help develop more leadership skills!

When/Where: Friday, November 13th, 5PM

Who: Office of Student Leadership

Click HERE to RSVP

Disproportionate Impact and Justice Denied: Sexual Violence Directed at Native Americans

What: During this talk, Project Safe Center Director and Senior Lecturer of Gender and Sexuality Studies Cara Tuttle Bell will provide an overview of the prevalence of sexual and domestic violence impacting Native Americans and the legal and other structural barriers that exist and perpetuate this heightened vulnerability. Sexual violence is typically present where family separation, compulsory relocation and concentration of persons of shared identity, and genocide occur, and tragic similarities between the treatment of Native Americans and immigrants by the U.S. government continue to exist.  For those unable to attend, Cara recommends reading Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide by Andrea Smith.

When/Where: Thursday, November 19th, 12PM

Who: Project SAFE; the Student Center for Social Justice and Identity

Click HERE to RSVP


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.