GW Students for Indigenous and Native American Rights is hosting online events throughout November to commemorate their annual Native American Heritage Celebration.
GW SINAR is collaborating with student organizations like GW Organization of Latin American Students, the Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service and community activists to celebrate November’s NAHC with five virtual events. Student leaders said they expanded their events this year to focus more on facilitating discussions with students in online formats like a podcast because the remote semester prevented in-person events like film screenings.
Sophomore Sydney McArthur, the co-founder of SINAR, said the organization had a “more inclusive” mission in collaborating with multiple organizations for Native American Heritage Month this year.
“We tried not to have a jam-packed month with events like we would have done maybe on campus because we understand that with midterms and finals coming up, not to mention the difficulties of being at home, we don’t want to overwhelm people, especially many of our students of color who might not have the same accessibilities,” McArthur said. “We don’t want to prohibit anyone from participating. So we want to make it as accessible and as reasonable as possible.”
She said the group collaborated with GW OLAS on Friday for an episode of OLAS’ “Colonial Chisme” podcast discussing the intersectionality of Indigenous heritage in Latin America.
She said the event was meant to broaden discussions on indigeneity and bring both multicultural groups’ history and cultures together. She said in previous years the group focused more on the representation of indigenous peoples in areas like cinema.
McArthur said group members collaborated over FaceTime and Google Docs to brainstorm events for the celebration and many organizations like GW Students Against Imperialism and GW Black Defiance supported SINAR’s advocacy by sharing social media posts on their own pages. McArthur said the group also hosted an event during GW’s 6th Annual Diversity Summit discussing “indignity and colonialism in the present” as part of their celebration.
Georgie Britcher, a junior and co-founder of SINAR, said student leaders decided to still organize their celebration this month despite the pandemic because it’s necessary to promote indigenous representation at GW where many students may not be as aware of issues affecting those communities. She said at a time when the Navajo Nation is experiencing an “uncontrolled spread” of COVID-19, educating people about Indigenous cultures is “incredibly” vital.
She said it’s been “really nice” to see different student organizations want to collaborate on events or participate in the discussions SINAR has hosted this month.
“The Navajo Nation has been experiencing the worst comeback of COVID-19,” Britcher said. “So this is not a time to forget about Indigenous people and not only just to educate people about Indigenous culture but also to show that we’re still here and to celebrate our existence as well.”
Makena Roberts contributed reporting