Successful second year for Native American Heritage Month at UNO


Jimmy Carroll

Members of the ITSC perform a traditional dance in Milo Bail Student Center.
Members of the ITSC perform a traditional dance in Milo Bail Student Center. Photo by Jimmy Carroll/the Gateway

Members of the Intertribal Student Council (ITSC) from the Office of Multicultural Affairs at the University of Nebraska at Omaha shared their Native American culture on campus this month from Nov. 1-15. Whether it was blood quantum, open mic night, the Native American craft fair or “Rock your Mocs,” there was something for everyone to experience.

The final event of Native American heritage month “Rock your Mocs” featured drummers and dancers in a circle. The event, which was featured in the Milo Bail Student Center (MBSC) plaza, attracted many teachers and students who were onlookers. The beat the drummers made echoed throughout and produced an engaging rhythm.

Intertribal Student Council member Jacob Walker said everyone in attendance was from several different tribes and the Pow Wow Community. They performed an intertribal dance known as “Rock Your Mocs.” Walk said he made his own moccasins this semester, which took two weeks to complete.

“Seeing people look over the balconies inside the student center to watch the drummers and see what our culture is really about is beneficial to the university,” Walker said. “People are able to get a first glimpse of who we are, especially with the loud beat of the drums.”

Walker said the volume and loudness of the drums was hoped to make an impact in people’s lives, and the beat is meant to symbolize a heartbeat. Hearing the echo of the drumbeat is like our actual lives taking place. It is very sacred, Walker said.

Gretchen Carroll, multicultural outreach coordinator at UNO, explained this is the second year for Native American heritage month after a successful first year. She was hoping to see people watching from elsewhere to hear the singing and drums.

“The males have traditionally been drummers, since the loud beats represent a mother’s heart and showing her power (to give birth),” Carroll said.

Carroll said the “Rock Your Mocs” dance was to be held outside the student center this year, but there were Native American vets inside that had hoped to hear the drums indoors.
Native American heritage month hopes to make a third appearance next fall at UNO. Faculty and staff say it’s an excellent learning opportunity for those who don’t know much about Native American culture.

ITSC is 20 students strong and is open to all UNO students to promote Intertribal Unity, academic support and an awareness of Native American students, culture and issues on and off the UNO campus. ITSC hosts an annual pow wow each spring and a Native American Film Festival in the fall and also engages in significant community service and social activities.