The University of Maine hosts a community full of people who take pride in the rich cultural diversity of the area and celebrate each national heritage month with activities and events. On Thursday, Nov. 1 faculty and students gathered in a circle in front of the Raymond H. Fogler Library to celebrate the second annual Native American Heritage Month Flag Raising Ceremony. The ceremony was co-hosted by The Wabanaki Center, The Office of Multicultural Student Life and American Indian Student Organization.
The ceremony began with an introduction from Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Robert Dana who discussed the importance of the day and the significance of Native American Heritage Month. Other school faculty introduced themselves and gathered around the dean as the ceremony began.
“Every little bit of energy we can invest in making the world a better place will spread to others, and they can make the world a better place for someone else,” Dana said. “We need to have compassion, acceptance and love for each other.”
Chair of Native American Programs Professor Darren Ranco and Ambassador of Penobscot Nation Maulina Dana attended the event to advocate for the need of cultural diversity and acceptance on college campuses.
“The event services to educate the University community about indigenous people on campus and in the state, and raise awareness,” Ranco said. “We are located on Marsh Island in Penobscot Territory and it allows us to mark the space that way, something very important and significant.”
The university works closely with the Penobscot Nation members to plan events and activities that celebrate the history behind the land that the school was built on. Many different programs and organizations have been created on campus in order to encourage the celebration and acceptance of all cultures and heritages.
“It is is important that we nourish this strong bond that connects us together. We are on Penobscot land and we needs to spread awareness of the invisibility of indigenous people and other marginalized groups,” Maulina Dana said. “This is a really great showing of neighborly love, and my work today is to honor all of the people who came before me, and all the voices who aren’t heard. I am so happy and honored to be part of this.”
The flag raising began last year as the beginning of a new tradition meant to honor Native American Heritage Month. Flyers and posters about Native American Heritage Month were hung up around campus to give students access to information surrounding the Native American tribes and cultures in our local community and area. The ceremony concluded with the raising of the flag centered on a pole in front of Fogler Library, where a member of the Penobscot community performed a Penobscot Native flag song that he created with a traditional drum.
“These events most definitely create acceptance and equality across campus. Being able to honor and recognize everyone for who they are is a critical element of a vibrant community,” Ranco said. “This is especially important for indigenous people in educational contexts, wherein previous generations, especially before the 1970s, but even later in some situations, were not allowed access to education institutions or were abused and disrespected in them.”
If students would like to participate in other Native American Heritage Month events throughout this month, they can locate flyers and signs in the Memorial Union. Other events include a Native American Crafts and Artistry Class on Nov. 7 from 6-7 p.m., a Lunch and Learn on Nov. 14 from 12-1 p.m. and a Multicultural Thanksgiving on Nov. 15 from 5:30-7 p.m. To see the full list of events please visit: https://umaine.edu/multicultural/native-american-heritage-month/
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