Native Heritage Month Display
For the month of November, Syracuse University Libraries is featuring books and films selected by native students at Syracuse University on the themes of oral histories, literature by native authors, decolonization, and Indian residential schools and Hawaiian Sovereignty. Titles can be browsed on the first floor of Bird Library in the Miron Learning Commons through November 30th or any time on the online Native Heritage Month display.
Many thanks to our guest curators Katsitsatekanoniahkwa Destiny Lazore, communications and rhetorical studies major in VPA, and Aysha-Lynn Estrella, exercise science major in the Falk College, for their contributions.
For Native Americans, history did not begin when Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas in 1492. Prior to contact from Europe, Indigenous people cultivated the land and flourished in an organized society with moral codes, ceremonies, a complex political structure and an economic system. State-funded public schools tend to favor a Eurocentric approach, which is suffused with remnants of colonial ideologies.
This form of education is assimilative and harmful because it devalues Native American history and ancestry and perpetuates damaging stereotypes about Indigenous peoples. Many historians tend to dismiss Indigenous claims because they were not deemed valid by an “expert.” Unfortunately, Native American history has been taught in a declension narrative, which portrays them as an uncivilized and broken minority, that is not worthy of empathy.
As the curator of this display, I wanted to detach from colonial attitudes, and instead elevate Indigenous voices and cultural knowledge by selecting authors who are a part of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy or other Native American tribes in the United States. Natives scholars and community members must have sovereignty over their narrative in order to combat distorted claims and pass down the cultural
traditions to the next generation. Reconciliation requires honesty and public truth-sharing that addresses past harms, which is why I included written topics from Indigenous authors about Indian Residential Schools, decolonizing methods, oral traditions, First Nation films and Native American Literature.
Katsitsatekanoniahkwa Destiny Lazore – Second-year Communications & Rhetorical Studies major, College of Visual and Performing Arts