Native and Indigenous Heritage Month

In recognition of Native and Indigenous Heritage Month (NIHM), St. John’s University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs has organized a multicampus virtual celebration under this year’s theme, “Native is Now.” NIHM pays tribute to and honors the rich and diverse cultures, legacy, traditions, histories, and contributions made by Native American and Indigenous individuals and communities.

We invite you to join in the University’s 2022 community celebration of Native and Indigenous Heritage Month (also known as National Native American Heritage Month), which is nationally celebrated in November. 

We continue to offer virtual, hybrid, and in-person access to our cultural inclusion programming. To accommodate all in-person and virtual needs of our guests, we ask that attendees register for each event. 

Featured Events

Thursday, November 3
Inclusivity Resource Center in Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, Queens Campus
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Join us as we celebrate the start of NIHM with our featured guest performers and local educators from the Redhawk Native American Arts Council. The event includes a traditional performance, food, and refreshments.

The council is a not-for-profit organization founded and maintained by Native American artists and educators residing in the New York City area. Since 1994, it has been dedicated to educating the public about Native American heritage through song, dance, theater, works of art, and other cultural forms of expression. The council represents artists from North, South, and Central America; the Caribbean; and Polynesian Indigenous cultures.

Tuesday, November 8 | 1–2:15 p.m. ET
Inclusivity Resource Center in Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, Queens Campus
Via Zoom for Staten Island Campus
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Join us during the month of November for a special listening event with, Rachel Pereira, Esq., Ed.D., Vice President of Equity and Inclusion, as she continues her listening tour on campus. The purpose of these sessions is for students and employees to share their experiences so that Dr. Pereira may better understand the St. John’s campus climate. Your feedback will help her capture themes and create plans of actions. Refreshments will be served.

Formerly a senior legal and policy advisor for EdCounsel of Nelson Mullins, LLC, Dr. Pereira has a multidisciplinary background and experience in the education and legal industries, having served as a teacher, school principal, prosecutor, legal counsel to educational institutions, and as an adjunct professor at three graduate schools.

Thursday, November 10 | 1:50–3:15 p.m. ET
Inclusivity Resource Center in Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, Queens Campus
via Zoom for Staten Island Campus
Register Now | Zoom Access

Join us in a hybrid panel discussion that includes young Native activists who will focus on the many issues faced by Native communities, in particular the fight for reclaiming what it means to be Native and the future of Native communities around the country. This event will be moderated by Cliff Matias, a Native American Taino/Kichwa performing artist, educator, and world-renowned photographer. Refreshments will be available throughout the event. This event is being held in collaboration with the Institute for Critical Race and Ethnic Studies and the Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion.

Mr. Matias is a resident of Brooklyn, NY. He hails from the Kechwa and Taino Indigenous Nations. He has served as an activist, cultural artist, teaching artist, and performing artist for the Redhawk Native American Arts Council for more than 27 years.

He served as the Cultural Director for Title 9 Native American Education for New York City from 1994 to 1998. In 1995, he was the cohost of the Circle of Red Nations radio program on WBAI.

From 1997 to 1999, Mr. Matias was a cultural interrupter for the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City and was a feature artist in the museum’s production, “A Native American Thanksgiving.” Since 1999, Mr. Matias has worked as a photojournalist for Indian Country to Day Media and has covered stories from Hawaii to Peru.

Charitie Ropati (Yup'ik and Samoan) is a 21-year-old education and environmental activist who worked to implement an accurate and inclusive subcurriculum of Indigenous peoples in Western pedagogy in Alaska. She also was an integral part in passing policy at the Anchorage School District that allowed students to wear their cultural regalia during graduation. This is a policy that is still in place.

She was awarded Champion for Change by the Center for Native American Youth for her work in education, and she has been featured and nationally recognized for her advocacy in Teen Vogue, The Malala Fund, The Guardian, and elsewhere. She has been recognized as a 2022 “In the Know” changemaker.

Kapulei Flores is a Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) from the Moku ’o Keawe, also known as Hawai’i Island. She is a photographer focused on capturing authentic moments, showing a perspective of Hawai’i through native eyes and as a tool with activism and perpetuating the culture of Hawai’i.

For more than 10 years, Ms. Flores, along with her family, has been involved in the Protect Mauna Kea movement, which has allowed her to document her family’s journey. Through documenting different cultural events, ceremonies, and movements, she has had her work and story featured in Teen Vogue, BuzzFeed News, VoxMs. magazine’s “25 under 25,” and more.

She has helped to put together a series of exhibits and had her work featured in exhibits including Indigenous Photograph, Photoville, and Illuminative. She currently works for Mauna Kea Education and Awareness, and runs the @protectmaunakea Instagram, as well as her own photography account @kapzphotography.

Jasilyn Charger is a Land Defender and community organizer youth advocate for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. She is 23 years old and has been on the frontlines for six years battling pipelines, protecting and advocating for Native American and LGBTQ+ rights.

Currently she is supporting a local movement for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women with the Women Warriors Society, opposing the construction of the KXL pipeline. Ms. Charger is the cofounder of the International Indigenous Youth Council, The One Mind Youth Movement, and 7th Defenders, a grassroots group that serves disadvantaged youth and young adults on the Cheyenne River Reservation. She was one of the few youths who ignited the Standing Rock Pipeline Resistance Movement.

Thursday, November 17 | 5–7 p.m. ET
Inclusivity Resource Center in Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, Queens Campus
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Join us for a discussion about sex, gender, and reclaiming indigenous bodies with Manny Loley, Director of the Emerging Diné Writers’ Institute. Mr. Loley is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English and Literary Arts at the University of Denver. This event is in collaboration with the LGBTQ+ Center; the Institute for Critical Race and Ethnic Studies; the Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion; the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program; and the Department of English. Refreshments will be provided.

Mr. Loley is a Diné storyteller from Tsétah Tó Ák’olí in New Mexico. He is a current Ph.D. candidate in English and literary arts at the University of Denver. He is Director of the Emerging Diné Writers’ Institute and Program Coordinator for the Six Directions: Indigenous Creative Writing Program through Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, CO.

His work has found homes in Poetry magazine, the Arkansas International, the Massachusetts Review, and the Diné Reader: an Anthology of Navajo Literature, among others. His writing has been thrice nominated for Pushcart Prizes. Mr. Loley is at work on a novel, They Collect Rain in Their Palms, and a collection of poems in Diné bizaad.