Written by Emma Myers~ Copy Editor
Watercolor by John White https://www.monacannation.com/our-history.html
The acknowledgement reads, “Long before the University of Lynchburg was established in 1903 as an educational institution, the Monacan Indian Nation inhabited this land and the greater Piedmont region of Virginia for more than 10,000 years.
We honor the Indigenous people of this region who have woven their lives into the nearby mountains that rise and rivers that flow across the land. We honor the indigenous people of this region who have hunted, harvested, crafted, traded, worshiped and dreamed, educating their descendants through storytelling and oral traditions.
We acknowledge that through oppression, disease, systematic attack, race integrity laws, and the inequities that plagued Virginia’s educational system, the Monacan Indian Nation was significantly reduced in numbers. As the result of a targeted paper genocide, their culture and identities became virtually extinct…”
Matthew Johnston, director of student diversity and belonging, shares why it is important to observe Native American Heritage month.
Johnston says, “Native American communities have a rich and diverse cultural heritage. They have made significant contributions to art, science, technology, agriculture and countless other fields. Celebrating their heritage allows us to acknowledge and honor these contributions, which are often underrepresented or overlooked…
…observing Native American Heritage Month is important for recognizing the contributions, history, and cultures of Native Americans, fostering respect and understanding, and addressing contemporary issues faced by these communities. It is an opportunity to build bridges, promote cultural diversity and work towards a more inclusive and equitable society.”
Students can also promote diversity and inclusion throughout the campus.
“Take the initiative to educate yourself about different cultures, histories, and social issues. Read books, articles, and watch documentaries or films that address diversity, equity, and inclusion topics.
Engage in open and respectful dialogue with peers from diverse backgrounds. Encourage conversations about race, religion, and identity to foster understanding and build connections.
Explore different cultural experiences on campus, such as trying diverse foods, attending performances, or visiting cultural exhibitions. This can help you appreciate and celebrate diversity…” says Johnston.
The month of November is formally recognized as “Native American Heritage” month.
This holiday originated in 1986 when congress approved a resolution that declared the week of Nov. 23-30 “American Indian Week.” Bush then signed annual requests that alternated between weeks in September and November to continue honoring the rich Native American history of the United States.
It was not until 1995 when the entire month of November began to be reserved for the exploration of Native American history.
The month of November is traditionally reserved in American culture as a time for celebration and “thanksgiving” to honor the first settlers to arrive in the United States. However, there are many myths and inaccuracies that lay within that story, as well as centuries of mistreatment of Native Americans that followed.
The Pilgrims arrived in 1690, and the Wampanoag tribe formed an alliance with the new settlers as a form of protection for the tribe. But over the next few decades, the Pilgrims exploited the land and its resources, misplacing many Indigenous people from their homes; and spreading a plethora of diseases.
Rather than the image of a strong, mutual alliance, November is the first devastating domino in the continuous mistreatment and displacement of Native Americans from their homeland.
The university dining hall is serving Native American cuisine throughout various days in November, including:
- Friday, November 10 – Venison Stew, Maple Glazed Butternut Squash, Grilled Corncakes
- Tuesday, November 14 – Cedar Plank Salmon, Three Sisters Succotash, Mushroom Wild Rice Pilaf
- Thursday, November 30 – Chili and Juniper Roasted Duck, Wojapi Sauce, Collards Greens, Corn Bread
To understand more about the vast history of the Monacan Tribe, read the University of Lynchburg Land Acknowledgement.
Library Of Congress. (n.d.). Research guides: National american indian heritage month: A Commemorative Observances Legal Research Guide: History and overview. History and Overview – National American Indian Heritage Month: A Commemorative Observances Legal Research Guide – Research Guides at Library of Congress. https://guides.loc.gov/national-american-indian-heritage-month/history-and-overview
Bugos, C. (2019, November 26). The myths of the Thanksgiving story and the lasting damage they imbue. Smithsonian.com. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/thanksgiving-myth-and-what-we-should-be-teaching-kids-180973655/