Vice President and Dean Wimbush on the IU First Nations Education and Culture Center and Native American Heritage Month

Monday, November 11, 2013

The month of November is Native American Heritage Month. It is an excellent time to acknowledge the great contributions that Native Americans have had in the U.S. but more specifically the impact that Native Americans have had on all IU campuses.

But also during Native American Heritage Month we must remember the turbulent past of First Nations peoples here in the U.S. The U.S. has a long history of ignoring, disparaging, damaging, and attacking Native Americans that will always be a stain on its past. That is why we must work even harder to celebrate, preserve, and acknowledge a rich social, cultural, and economic past that must inform our future.

This month also gives us an opportunity to acknowledge the great work that the First Nations Education and Culture Center here in Bloomington has been able to achieve. FNECC was founded in 2004 but even in its short existence it has done extensive work in providing a venue to explore, support, and preserve First Nations cultures here at IU. It seeks to provide a safe and welcoming environment for Native Americans and their allies on the IU campus.

FNECC is only one facet of IUs commitment to Native Americans. IU has a strong chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Latinos and Native Americans in Science as well as the Native American Graduate Student Association. All of these groups work diligently to provide support for, and education about Native Americans here at IU.

As one of the culture centers here in Bloomington FNECC is a perfect example of the trajectory of IU. We must continue to provide safe and nurturing environments for people of all backgrounds on all the campuses of IU. It is imperative that FNECC continue to do its great work as it is a vital part of Indiana University's desire to support all students, staff and faculty in a positive and affirming learning environment.

Native American Heritage Month is a month of both remembrance and celebration. It is a time to grieve for the past, work in the presence, and look to the future. The FNECC and other Native American groups at IU are at the vanguard of this promising future. I am proud to work with them and wish to acknowledge their vital role at IU. IU must be a welcoming and nourishing environment and the FNECC is an important facet of this goal.