Events slated for Native American Heritage Month

contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News

November is Native American Heritage Month.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.--November is Native American Heritage Month, and four events at Western Michigan University are being held to celebrate the month.

All of the presentations are free and open to the public and take place on the WMU campus.

Thursday, Nov. 6

  • WMU will hold a reception in honor of Matt Wesaw, director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the President's Dining Room of the Bernhard Center.

    The event is part of the WMU Division of Multicultural Affairs' fall slate of activities. Wesaw will deliver remarks on the presence and history of native people in Michigan. He was appointed to the commission by Gov. Rick Snyder in October 2013 and is the first Native American to hold the post. The event also will feature traditional drums and art.
  • (and Friday, Nov. 7) The Division of Multicultural Affairs will be showing the film, "A Kind Hearted Woman," from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 6 and 7 in Room 1750 Sangren Hall. This documentary chronicles the life of a single mother in a North Dakota reservation and premiered on PBS' "Frontline" in April 2013.

Thursday, Nov. 13

  • A discussion titled "Tribal Governance: What Does It All Really Mean?" will be presented from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in 1220 Chemistry Building. The event will feature Emily Proctor, educator on Tribal Governance for the Michigan State University Extension office and is part of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion's Real Talk Diversity Series. 

    Proctor will provide an overview of federal policy and how that has led to Michigan's tribal government structures. In addition, she will help attendees learn more about programs that have been developed as a result of relationship building with Michigan Tribal Nations.
  • Photo of Gordon Henry Jr.

    Gordon Henry Jr.

    Anishinaabe poet and novelist Gordon Henry Jr. will present Chippewa-style chants, recitation and storytelling set to the backdrop of musical improvisation at 7 p.m. in the Lee Honors College Building lounge.

    The event is part of the honors college's fall Mix It Up Thursdays series. Henry, a professor of English at Michigan State University, is an enrolled member of the White Earth Chippewa Tribe of Minnesota. He wrote the novel, "The Light People," which won the American Book Award in 1994. In addition, he co-wrote the 2004 textbook, "The Ojibway," and edits the MSU Press' American Indian Studies Series.

Tuesday, Nov. 18

  • A presentation titled "Living Traditionally in a Modern World: Native Americans of West Michigan Adjusting to an Ever Growing and Expanding World," will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the indoor tennis courts of the Student Recreation Center.

    The event will feature Marcus Winchester, tribal historic preservation officer for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, and is part of the WMU Office of Diversity and Inclusion's Real Talk Diversity Series. This presentation will include traditional Native American dancing and music. Attendees also will hear personal experiences about the history and culture of Native Americans in West Michigan as well as learn about the Native American community holistically while considering worldwide perceptions.

Additional information

For campus maps and directions to WMU, visit

Direct questions to: for the Matt Wesaw visit or documentary film, Division of Multicultural Affairs at (269) 387-4420; for the Gordon Henry presentation, Lee Honors College at (269) 387-3230; for the Real Talk Diversity Series, Office of Diversity and Inclusion at (269) 387-6313.

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