University of Illinois-Chicago Helps Celebrate Native American Heritage Month

Northern War Club

Northern War Club

CHICAGO – Yesterday, the University of Illinois-Chicago put on its annual Native American Heritage Celebration, which is free and open to the public. This daylong event offered information booths pertaining to UIC campus programs as well as American Indian organizations throughout Chicago. The theme of this year’s event was “Our Heritage: The Ties that Connect Us to Our Ancestors.” The Native American Support Program, headed by Jonathan MeDrano (Arapaho/Shoshone), has worked hard to keep the culturally relevant programming and events for the UIC students and community members.

During the luncheon, the keynote speaker was the nationally recognized Ada Deer (Menominee), who successfully campaigned for the federal recognition of the Menominee Tribe. The 78-yrs-old Deer gave a humorous and inspiring speech that reached out to younger generations to make positive changes and achieve higher education.

Deer served as  the first woman ever to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Interior – Indian Affairs during the Clinton administration.

“It’s up to us elect good people and good policies,” said Deer. Through her long career, Deer has stood up to political officials to acknowledge Natives and other minorities. She went on to promote the word “inclusion” as opposed to “diversity,” embracing physical, gender, and cultural differences.

“I never went to prom, but I did go to the White House,” said Deer as she explained how she pursued education and politics.

The evening ended with a powwow and dance performances by the American Indian Center of Chicago. Drum performances by Milwaukee Bucks/Northern, and Red Line/Northern War Club. There were Native foods such as wild rice soup, fried bread, and Indian Tacos served to UIC students and community members.

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