November marked the arrival of Native American Heritage Month, also known as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, commemorating the rich history, culture, and contributions of indigenous peoples in the Americas. During this month, Native American communities are recognized for the crucial role they have played throughout American history as the original inhabitants of American land. November was chosen because it represents the end of the traditional Native harvest season and the arrival of Thanksgiving.
Director of Equity and Inclusion Nuri Friedlander noted the uniqueness of Native American Heritage Month at Lawrenceville. “Because we don’t have a Native American student group on campus, our goal for the month wasn’t necessarily for a group of students on campus to celebrate their culture like we did for Hispanic Heritage Month,” Friedlander said, “but rather for the edification of the campus as a whole.”
Friedlander worked closely with several student-led groups on campus to celebrate the month and what it stands for. He noted that Lunch and Dialogue—a forum for students to discuss relevant issues and current events—provided a great opportunity for Lawrentians to learn more about the history and culture of Native American tribes. The student-led organization hosted a documentary viewing about Oklahoma’s Osage tribe, which connects to a recently released movie called “Killers of the Flower Moon.” “Something that Lunch and Dialogue does is collaborate with different affinity groups or do programming that’s aligned with what’s happening around us at any given moment,” Friedlander elaborated.
Friedlander has also organized a trip to the Michener Art Museum for this upcoming Sunday, December 10. The museum exhibits art from the Lenape tribe, whose members reside in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, including Lawrence Township. “We have limited space, but anyone is able to sign up, and I would really encourage all who are interested to try,” he said.
Reflecting on the importance of celebrating Native American Heritage Month, Friedlander noted that the month provides “an opportunity for us to think of the history of the place that we’re in, the lands that we’re on, and what it means for us to be here.” “Celebrating these heritage months can be a good chance for students to become more engaged within the school community, as they can highlight, showcase, and educate their peers in things that matter to them,” he concluded.