Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Students celebrate Native American heritage

November 9, 2011
Korean War veteran Joe Webster of East Lansing speaks Wednesday night at Holmes Hall during the Veteran's Feast. The talk was part of the Native Heritage Month events hosted by North American Indigenous Student Organization, or NAISO. Justin Wan/The State News
Korean War veteran Joe Webster of East Lansing speaks Wednesday night at Holmes Hall during the Veteran's Feast. The talk was part of the Native Heritage Month events hosted by North American Indigenous Student Organization, or NAISO. Justin Wan/The State News —
Photo by Justin Wan | and Justin Wan The State News

Growing up in Detroit, Joseph Webster was taught about his African American culture, but he never knew of his Native American heritage. It wasn’t until it was mentioned by a neighbor that Webster learned of the second part of his family background.

“It was a big secret in my family,” he said. “I didn’t find out until talking to my neighbors. They said we were Indians and I said, ‘What?’”

With November signifying” Native American Heritage Month”:http://statenews.com/index.php/article/2010/11/basket_weaving_event_at_msu_museum_celebrates_native_heritage_month, the North American Indigenous Student Organization, or NAISO, invited Webster to share his experiences both as a Native American and a military veteran during a Veteran’s Feast event in Holmes Hall cafeteria. The event also featured modern and traditional Native American food.

Webster served in the U.S. Air Force near the end of the Korean War and in the Army Reserve later on and said he has spent most of his life learning about his Native American roots.

One difference Webster noticed between U.S. and Native American culture is the difference in treatment veterans are given in their respective cultures. In American culture, Webster said veterans aren’t always given the respect they deserve, as opposed to Native American culture where veterans are revered.

“A lot of people don’t understand the relationship (of veterans in Native American culture), and I think it’s important that they do,” he said. “We have a dance for veterans (where) we stop (in the middle of the dance) and people come and shake our hands.”

NAISO co-chair and French senior Sean Patrick said students were interested when they saw the unique food at the event.

“They saw the cuisine, and they seemed really into it,” Patrick said. “It’s a great opportunity for them to see native and traditional dishes and give them a try.”

Although he doesn’t identify as Native American, psychology sophomore Chris McClain said he was intrigued by the different style of food.

After a friend recommended he come to the event and give it a try, McClain said he enjoyed the experience and was glad he came.

“It’s been really fun having this nice little dinner,” he said. “Learning about different cultures enriches your life.”

NAISO co-chair and kinesiology sophomore Jessica Rivard said celebrating Native American Heritage Month has been a source of pride for students.

“We want to be able to share our culture with everyone else and be really proud of it,” she said. “It’s nice to give the student body a sense of Native food because everyone likes food and food brings everyone together.”

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