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November is Native American and Indigenous Heritage Month

Learn about MSU Denver’s new student group and a trio of events on contemporary Native and Indigenous issues.

By Matt Watson

October 29, 2020

There are close to 100 American Indian or Alaska Native students studying at Metropolitan State University of Denver each year, according to the official student census, and now there is a Native Indigenous Student Alliance.

Lance Tsosie, who grew up on the Navajo Nation before moving to Colorado and graduating from the University of Denver, started the group this fall as a graduate assistant in the Center for Multicultural Engagement and Inclusion. Tsosie co-founded the first Native student group at DU, which has grown tenfold since its first year, and hopes to provide similar support for MSU Denver students.

Native Indigenous Student Alliance logoThe alliance hosted its first event on Indigenous Peoples Day (Oct. 12) and has three events planned for Native American and Indigenous Heritage Month, which is November. The events cover the harms created by Native Halloween costumes and cultural appropriation, the intersection of Native identity with gender and sexuality, and environmental activism. All three events feature Native speakers. In addition, the alliance collaborates with Journey Through Our Heritage to co-sponsor two other events to round out the month.

“It’s important to note that the events we’ve had and are planning are very politically and socially motivated conversations because our identity is very much that. There is a racial component, but there is a political reality revolving around who we are as a people,” Tsosie said. “I’m excited to have students share our cultures and really prevalent issues that are occurring in Indian country.”

Four Roadrunners are co-chairing the student organization with shared leadership duties, and Tsosie hopes to grow the group this month.

“We’re trying to recruit more students and hoping that after the events we host this month more students will come out of the dark corners of Zoom and join us,” Tsosie said.

Ultimately, Tsosie hopes all Native students can gain a sense of belonging on campus – a campus that resides on the ancestral lands of the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Nations, which is reflected in the University’s official land acknowledgment.

“I want to support Native students in creating a space that they can be vulnerable and share experiences revolving around their most salient identity,” he said. “We can hopefully start talking about reclaiming our identities, finding pathways to learn more about our distinct cultures, and (I want to) do what I can to find a corner within the University where students can be together and feel they are heard and respected.”

‘We Are Not Costumes’

A conversation with Cali Wolf and Jordan Daniel on how Halloween costumes and cultural appropriation reinforce harmful racist stereotypes, and how the hypersexualization of Native women with these costumes perpetuates the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis.


4 p.m.

Click to register.

Transient IndigExperiences: Contemporary Takes on Gender and Sexuality

A conversation with Charlie Amaya Scott (Navajo) and Joseph Hillaire (Lemmi) as they highlight the history of the Two-Spirit identity and share their personal experiences navigating the constellation of gender and sexuality.

Nov. 5

5 p.m.

Click to register.

Environmental Protectors in the Indigenous Southwest

A conversation with Diné scholars and media makers Teresa Montoya and Angelo Baca as they discuss their research and activism around environmental contamination and sacred-sites protection in the Indigenous Southwest.

Nov. 12

5 p.m.

Click to register.

White Bison: Healing Community Through Tradition  

Please join the MSU Denver Journey Through Our Heritage and the American Indigenous Business Leaders in a conversation with Carrie Howell as she discusses the healing practices in supporting our communities.  

Nov. 13

11 a.m.

Please click to join the event.  

Understanding Critical Indigenous Studies

Please join Journey Through Our Heritage and the American Indigenous Business Leaders in a conversation with Indigenous scholar LeRoy Saiz as he discusses the importance of Critical Indigenous Studies. 


11 a.m.

Please click to join the event. 

Topics: Center for Equity and Student Achievement, Community, Diversity, Events, Excellence, Inclusion

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