Telling their own stories: The Native American Film club celebrates National Native American Heritage Month

 

Lora Luquet 

Arts and Living Editor 
 

The Center for Inclusion and Diversity is teaming up with the Department of Criminal Justice, History and Social Sciences to sponsor the Native American Film Club; an ongoing film series in the month of November that celebrates National Native American Heritage Month. 

This film series, which began on Nov. 5th and will end on the first Thursday of December, will include films written and directed by citizens or members of tribal nations. 

Dr. Rebecca Riall, assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and one of the coordinators of the film series, said she chose these films in order to put the focus on Native people telling their own stories. 

“We actually don’t show films that just have Native characters, because there’s a history of problematic representation,” Dr. Riall said. “So, instead what we feature is films that are all written and directed by Native people.” 

Brittany Broussard, coordinator for the Center of Inclusion and Diversity, noted how important it is for students to be exposed to other cultures that they may not know anything about. 

“I think just appreciating other cultures, appreciating diversity, is beneficial for making somebody a more well-rounded, well-educated, empathetic individual,” Broussard said. “It will just really enrich your own life and your own understanding of people.” 

Jana Batman, sophomore social work major, attended the first installment of the Native Film Club where the film “Reel Injun” was presented. 

Batman, who claims no Native American heritage but grew up going to Native American events and powwows, believes that even if National Native American Heritage Month events will not end discrimination against indigenous people it is a step in the right direction for Northwestern State University. 

“Just having a movement on one platform or another is not going to handle the entire problem,” Batman said. “But having seen the problem, in multiple venues, whether it’s social media, or mainstream news, or in the sports world, or in the academic world.” 

Dr. Riall thinks it is important for students to be aware of and understand issues relating to other cultures, and to be aware that there are resources at their disposal.  Riall noted that NSU offers sociology and anthropology courses that deal with not only cultural understanding but elements in the history of how ideas about race and culture developed in the US. 

“But I think also it’s important for students to do some of that work on their own,” Riall said. 

“I think all of those being a unified front, and then seeing Hollywood kind of jump on board and be able to support that message,” Batman said. “Is kind of the culmination in realizing that there is a cohesive and comprehensive push for people to get this information and to really understand it.” 

According to Van Erikson, director of recruiting, one of NSU’s goals is to become the prime center of Native American student enrollment in Louisiana. This has become a focus area for the recruiting team this year. 

“We actually have met several times with a few professors in the Social Sciences area, who are helping us with this initiative,” Erikson said. “We’re identifying nearby tribes and nearby family groups and things like that, and then, from there, we’re trying to actually establish a program for Native American students through Creole Heritage Area, but that’s immensely long term, like two or three years down the line.” 

The NSU Native American Film Club will take place in the Friedman Student Union. For more information on how to RSVP for these National Native American Heritage Month events, students can visit the Center for Inclusion and Diversity’s Facebook page, cid_nsula. 

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