The OSE's official poster for Native American Heritage Month.

BY JULIANNE SAAD, Staff Writer

On Nov. 2, the Office for Student Engagement kicked off Native American Heritage Month with a “cultural craft” event where students could make their own dreamcatchers.

Dexter Overall, the OSE’s coordinator for Diversity Programs, spoke about why they chose making dream catchers to kick off the month.

“All of the heritage months are about celebrating the various cultures that we have here in our world, and with the Office For Student Engagement, for us it’s really an opportunity to celebrate and educate,” Overall said. “In doing so, one of the tactics we really like to use (are) events that anyone can relate to, like the crafting event. Anybody can relate to the love for crafting; anybody can relate to having a dream, so we thought dream catchers would be a great way to introduce the culture.”

Overall said that these cultural celebrations are an opportunity to educate the campus community.

“I want students, faculty, and staff to walk away from these events and leave the month of November excited about the new information that they have learned,” Overall said. “I want to leave them with wanting them to know more. My goal is to educate, inspire, and uplift, and that’s what I feel that these events do. The goal of this month, and all of our heritage months, is to keep those wheels turning when it comes to educating about cultures.”

Part of the educational mission of the OSE’s heritage months is to work toward dispelling stereotypes of people from particular cultures.

“We are giving the students’ the opportunity to interact with some of these people, and presenting them with different information and different types of people,” Overall said. “One of the biggest ways to dispel hateful stereotypes is to provide that one-on-one experience for people to ask questions about the culture and to provide exposure to what the culture really is. Sometimes these things are just made up because someone was too fearful to seek the real information, and that’s why we are here, to provide them with the real information.”

Native American Heritage Month will continue with the Rag Pettibone Native American Experience Exhibit on Nov. 17 from 12 – 1:00 p.m. on the University Center stage.