GV celebrates Native American Heritage Month

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The event will feature a showing of the film Mino Bimaadiziwin, “a love story about decolonization.” (Courtesy Shane McSauby)

Katherine Arnold, Staff Reporter

On Tuesday, Dec. 8, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Native American Student Association (NASA) will be presenting a showing of the short film “Mino Bimaadiziwin.” The feature is a movie created by one of Grand Valley State University’s alumni of 2015, Ishkwaazhe Shane McSauby, and its showing will be a part of GVSU’s Native American Heritage Celebration. In addition to the film, there will be a discussion facilitated by two NASA students and McSauby.

“Participants will experience a beautiful story of an Anishinabek person who struggles with the existence of duality being American and a Native American,” said Lin Bardwell, NASA’s Student Initiative Coordinator.

McSauby’s Sundance film originally debuted in 2017 and has since been featured at events like the Sundance Film Festival and the Vancouver International Film Festival. It contributes to an important national discussion about ethnicity, cultural acceptance and understanding — something that’s important to bring to the college campus.

“I think the more that our campus at large sees our Native existence, it will reduce settler harm that we all experience in largely white spaces, and in white classrooms,” Bardwell said. “It is essential to bring our existence from a historical perspective and begin to teach that we exist still today.”

COVID-19 has impacted the group events that are typically held for this celebration and the greater cultural community.

“We have always amplified our local heroes or cultural teachers, spiritual guides, language speakers, and other facets of our local community as a way of celebrating who we are, so this year isn’t much different in that way,” Bardwell said. “It’s more about the gathering piece that has had an impact on this year’s planning and events.”

This showing will also celebrate McSauby as a GVSU alumnus. McSauby is a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and was born and raised in Grand Rapids.

“I think any student from our community who achieves as much as Shane has in the early stages of his career needs to be celebrated,” Bardwell said. “He doesn’t only represent GVSU, but more importantly he represents the urban Native community and the Grand Traverse Band.”

McSauby’s career shows a significant dedication to the telling of Native stories through a Native lens. It gives younger students a chance to see how someone who used to be in their position can find a place for themselves on campus and in the workforce, no matter their chosen field of study.

“I hope this movie and its discussion will grow cultural competency where students, faculty, and staff, begin to see how existing only in historic reality affects our ability to thrive here at GVSU,” Bardwell said.

To find out more about Shane McSauby, you can visit his website at https://www.shanemcsauby.com/. To keep up to date on NASA and their upcoming events, visit their page on LakerLink. And those interested in learning more about the Native American Heritage Celebration can do so on the OMA webpage.