‘Most people don’t really know we’re a thing’: Students, faculty reflect on lack of Native representation at Notre Dame

first_imgEditor’s Note: This is the first story in a two-part series examining the ways Native language and cultural identity are being kept alive by the students of Notre Dame. To learn more about their reflections on language and culture, explore these audio and visual clips.While Fr. Edward Sorin and the Congregation of Holy Cross were given the University’s land by the Bishop of Vincennes, this region of Northern Indiana was not uninhabited. “There’s a history of peace, art and culture on this spot that predates Fr. Sorin,” professor Brian S. Collier said. “When Fr. Sorin arrived, there was already a chapel here. The Pokagon Potawatomi was already worshiping here.” If anything, this is what Collier wants students to know about Notre Dame. Collier, a professor and historian with a Ph.D in Native American Studies, spends much of his time trying to ensure Native history does not become a thing of the past. Photo courtest of Alan Mychal Boyd NASAND co-president Alan Mychal Boyd (left) stands next to U.S. Representative Deb Haaland, who is one of two Native American women to ever be elected to U.S. Congress. Boyd and Haaland are pictured attending the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum.Collier said Catholicism was the commonality that linked Sorin and Leopold Pokagon, the leader of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi. While it was originally the Pokagon’s ancestral land, Collier said because of this Catholic connection, the Pokagon and the Congregation of the Holy Cross were able to live in relative harmony together on the land. Since 2013, Collier has run the Native American Initiatives (NAI) program at Notre Dame which, he said, initially started as a “faculty book club” for faculty and staff with degrees in Native American history. Soon, however, the program grew to sponsoring community members to come speak on Native issues at Notre Dame. NAI also works with area students from the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi. While the program works to support Native students, whether on campus or in the community, NAI also works as an outreach program for other students who are interested in Native history. Collier said that students often “wonder what they can do to support native causes.” The biggest thing, he said, is becoming aware of whose land they grew up on. “People should come to be aware that there’s been sequential immigration on this very land,” he said. “They’re not the first people there and they won’t be the last people there.” This awareness can translate to getting to know the Native students and Native student groups on campus. “Most people don’t really know we’re a thing,” Alan Mychal Boyd, a Notre Dame senior, said about the Native American Students Association of Notre Dame (NASAND). Boyd, who is the co-president of NASAND, said NASAND is not really supported by the University as a whole, but by the people who work within the University. “A lot of faculty and departments [at Notre Dame], especially the Multicultural Student centers, are awesome,” he said. “I think this is true for any native group on any campus — you have to find your support within certain parts of the University.”But, it can be hard for Native students to find support on campus, especially, Boyd said, since this year there are currently no native faculty that work with NASAND at the University.“That’s one thing that we’ve been really pushing and fighting for this past year…at least one Native faculty member would be amazing,” he said. “It’s important because, one, it shows that we’re here and that we have a person at the University who actually understands where we’re coming from as a whole. But, also, it just makes it so much easier to get things like a Native Studies minor or just better conditions.”The University has debated the induction of a Native American Studies minor for years. Boyd said that a Native American Studies minor would give Native students “a kind of authority,” and give them a chance to learn more about their own individual nations, as well as other Native nations. However, learning about Native nations can be a challenge, Boyd said, especially when so few classes choose to even address the history and contributions of Native nations and Indigenous Peoples. “So, any [class] that’s not specifically about Indigenous people usually doesn’t mention them whatsoever,” he said. “I think the most I got out of a class was our Intro to American Politics — it wasn’t in a lecture, it was in a textbook. All it was was one paragraph summarizing hundreds of years of civil rights and struggles with natives. It didn’t even mention that there were individual Native nations.” Over the years, this representational tension has only been exacerbated by the presence of the 12 Christopher Columbus murals on campus. On Jan. 20, however, it was announced that the University would be covering the murals. But yet, so far this year, the murals still remain uncovered. NASAND co-president junior Mikaela Murphy said that while ultimately she was happy with the decision to cover the murals, she would have appreciated more communication from the administration. “I am very happy with the decision that was made to cover the murals,” she said. “But I think it should have been something more permanent. I think President Jenkins should have thought about us when he made that public announcement without consulting us, because it led to us getting a lot of hate when we had nothing to do with the decision.”Paul J. Browne, the vice president of Public Affairs and Communication, said “Fr. Jenkins consulted widely before making a decision about the murals.” While discussions about the murals have all but stopped, Collier said he still finds it hard to tell prospective Native students about the murals. “From my own experience, when Native students come on tour and when they visit us, they always want to come inside the Main Building and I struggle with telling them about the murals,” he said. “I get some harsh reactions on why Notre Dame would have something like that. There is some potential harm to our larger community in placing them in such a prominent spot.” Boyd said he did not know Notre Dame had such murals until his third week on campus. Knowing about the murals as a prospective student might have impacted his decision to attend Notre Dame, he said. “I grew up in a culture where Columbus was a symbol of colonialism, a symbol of extermination and forced conversion and exploitation,” Boyd said. “So, I think, coming here and seeing [the Columbus murals] would have certainly affected my decision. Who people admire says a lot about them.”The lack of representation for Native and Indigenous people is a problem that persists not only in the tri-campus community, but in the country as well. However, some strides are being made towards inclusivity, specifically with the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum held on Aug. 19 in Sioux City, Iowa. Boyd, and other students from NASAND, were able to attend the forum, which was the first of its kind to place focus on Native issues.Tags: Christopher Columbus murals, culture, Father Jenkins, Father Sorin, Heritage, Indigenous, NAI, NASAND, native, Native Americanlast_img read more

This Week’s Picks! Patti LuPone, Kristin Chenoweth & Jonathan Groff

first_imgGet It Poppin’ with Patti LuPoneApril 28 at Carnegie HallThe New York Pops is throwing one hell of a birthday party! The guests of honor are Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, and the list of performers is seriously star studded. We’re talking Patti LuPone, Christian Borle, Megan Hilty, Jane Krakowski, Ricki Lake, Katharine McPhee, Martin Short and Aaron Tveit, to name a few. Did we mention honorary co-chairs Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker and Debra Messing? Click for tickets! Kristin Chenoweth The insanity of spring’s flurry of Broadway opening nights is behind us, which can only mean one thing: it’s almost time for the insanity of Tony Awards season! Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of great Broadway stuff to see and do before things get too crazy. From a star-studded birthday party to a bedtime visit from Andy Karl (yep, that’s right), our calendar is jam-packed. Check out our picks of the week! Cheer on Cheno’s Return!May 3, Carnegie HallOh Kristin, how we’ve missed you! For one night only, Kristin Chenoweth returns to the New York stage, where she oh-so-rightly-belongs, with her brand new concert The Evolution of a Soprano! In addition to new works and standards, Chenoweth will be taking a trip down her musical memory lane with songs from her early operatic and classical training to—hooray!—her Broadway and film roles. Those all sound great, but let’s be real: You had us at Kristin. Click for tickets! Wake Up with Jonathan GroffApril 29 on CBS and TonyAwards.comThey’re heeeeeere! The time has finally come for Broadway lovers everywhere watch Jonathan Groff and Lucy Liu announce the nominees for this year’s Tony Awards! The big news will break at 8:30AM ET, live from the Diamond Horseshoe at the Paramount Hotel. Set those coffee makers, and let the countdown to June 8 (and Hugh Jackman!) begin. View Commentscenter_img Stay Up Past Bedtime with RockyMay 1 on The Late Show with David LettermanThings are going to get swinging on CBS when the cast of Rocky stops by to perform on late night TV! Is it weird that we’re a little worried about Paul Shaffer’s safety? And Dave, if you need a little help, we’ve already got a top ten list of reasons to love Andy Karl going riiiiiiight here. You’re welcome. Star Files See Tragedy Live!Beginning May 1 at select theatersIf you haven’t made it across the pond yet this year, the National Theatre is doing you a solid. Sam Mendes (Cabaret) has helmed one hell of a production of King Lear in London, starring Simon Russell Beale in the tragic title role. On May 1, it’s going to be streamed live to movie theaters worldwide! Compared to transatlantic airfare, this is a steal. Just watch out for the eye gouging in HD. Yech. Click for tickets! Jonathan Grofflast_img read more