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Home > Academics > Undergraduate >
Ethnic Studies

Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month honors the Ohlone Chocheyno people whose village was located where Mills College now stands. We value and recognize the diversity of Indigenous peoples in the Americas and celebrate this month in memory of our ancestors and for the next seven generations.

Native American Heritage Walk
Available through November, Toyon Meadow

The Indigenous Women’s Alliance presents the Native Heritage Walk to honor notable Indigenous activists from around the world. We welcome dialogue about any of our honorees or the issues noted. As you enjoy our exhibit, please join us in acknowledging the Ohlone people, whose land we continue to occupy.

Music and Poetry from Indian Country
7:00 pm, Thursday, November 7, 2013, Student Union

Brianna CanyonJoin us for an exciting evening of performance with singer Brianna Pruett, poetry by members of the Idle No More Solidarity San Francisco Bay Area and the Mills Indigenous Women's Alliance.

Folk singer-songwriter from Gold Country, California, Brianna Lea Pruett’s musical expression reflects a confluence of experience and influence. Born in the mountains of Northern California, she plays a blend of indie-minded folk and blues suffused by the music of her Appalachian roots and her Cherokee and Choctaw heritage.

She has worked with diverse artists in many genres, and carries that personal tradition forward. Love, family, home, and heritage consistently show up in the music. Pruett released an EP of 5 new songs titled Keeping You In Mind in 2012, and has a new LP recording, Gypsy Bells, due out on Canyon Records in 2013.

Light refreshments will be served.

Film Screening of Standing on Sacred Ground: Profit and Loss
7:00 pm, Tuesday, November 12, 2013, Student Union

Come to a film screening of Standing on Sacred Ground: Profit and Loss. Filmmaker Christopher McLeod will present his thought-provoking film about Indigenous people in Papua, New Guinea and the tar sands in Canada who are fighting the loss of land, water and health to mining and oil industries. Idle No More co-founder Sylvia McAdam (Nehiyaw [Cree]) will also be present for Q&A.

Christopher (Toby) McLeod circled the globe for five Christopher McLeodyears filming the Standing on Sacred Ground series (2013). The four documentaries feature indigenous leaders taking stands for ecology and culture against government megaprojects, mining corporations, religious intolerance and climate change. McLeod founded the Sacred Land Film Project at Earth Island Institute in 1984 to make high-impact documentary films relevant to indigenous communities and modern audiences. Awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship for filmmaking and a Student Academy Award in 1983. McLeod holds a master’s degree from U.C. Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and a BA in American History from Yale.

American Indian Film Festival
Friday-Sunday, November 1-10, 2013 Delancey Street Theater, San Francisco
American Indian Motion Picture Awards Show, Sunday, November 10, 2013, 4-7 PM, SF Jazz Center, San Francisco

AIF FestivalPlease join the Indigenous Women’s Alliance for the 38th annual American Indian Film Festival on November 10, 2013, SF Jazz Center, San Francisco. The festival features over 70 films by filmmakers and young Indigenous people from the United States and Canada.

For complete details and the festival line-up, please visit the AIFI website: American Indian Film Festival. For information on car pools to the festival, please email Indigenous Women’s Alliance,

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Dinner Honoring Native Heritage Month
5:00–7:00 pm, Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Founders Hall

Come and enjoy the company of the Mills community and a mouth-watering Native American spread! Special entertainment provided by Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits drumming group!

Dinner Menu

Chicken Posoli (Made without gluten)

Coco-Bananas Quinoa Salad

Entrees and Sides:
Fry Bread
Butternut Squash Risotto with Spinach
Roasted Peewee Potatoes
Rainbow Chard
Smoked Bucket Chicken
Sweet Corn Balls
Stuffed Red Trout (Fresh Herbs and Wild Mushrooms)

Beverages and Desserts:
Watermelon and Berry Punch
Strawberry Crisp

Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits comes together to socialize, share and network in an alcohol and drug-free environment. BAAITS sees itself as an organization for Two-Spirit people to explore their rich heritage in a safe environment. To that end, BAAITS is committed to offering culturally relevant activities for LGBT individuals of Native American ancestry and their families and friends.

This event is cosponsored by Bon Appetit.

Reclaiming Home: Protecting Land Rights Panel
7:00 pm, Wednesday, November 13, 2013, Student Union

The Indigenous Women's Alliance and the Muslim Student Association are honored to present a panel by esteemed scholars and activists who are fighting to preserve land rights and control of their homelands. This is the first time Mills student groups have co-sponsored an event that connects the land issues of Muslim peoples with those of Indigenous peoples. We are focusing on our shared experiences rather than differences and look forward to lively presentations and participation by the audience for the Q&A portion.

Pennie Opal Plant, Yaqui/Choctaw/Cherokee, Pennie Opal Planthas been rising up for the next 7 generations for over 30 years. Her focus is is to ensure a viable future for those yet to come and has included nuclear weapons, Native American rights, the wars and climate change. She is also the owner of Gathering Tribes, a Native American gallery store in Albany, CA.

Sylvia McAdam (Saysewahum) is a mother and grandmother from the Treaty 6 territory of the nehiyawak (Cree) people on Turtle Island (Canada). Sylvia McAdamSylvia has her Juris Doctorate from the University of Saskatchewan and Bachelors in Human Justice from the University of Regina. She is a strong advocate and voice in the struggle for liberation and freedom for her people by way of self-determination and honouring of Treaty 6. Sylvia is co-founder of a global grassroots movement called “Idle No More” which stands against the genocide and unrelenting legislative attacks from the conservative government. Sylvia is a recipient of the Carol Geller Human Rights Award, Activist of the Year Award and Social Courage Award. Her greatest joy and solace is enjoying her time on the lands and waters of her people’s territory.

Dr. Hatem Bazian is co-founder and Academic Affairs Hatem BazienChair at Zaytuna College, the first Muslim Liberal Arts College in America. He is also a senior lecturer in the Departments of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Bazian teaches courses on Islamic Law and Society, Islam in America De-Constructing Islamophobia and Othering of Islam, Religious Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies. Between 2002 and 2007, Bazian also served as an adjunct professor of law at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.

In addition to Berkeley, Bazian is a visiting Professor in Religious Studies at Saint Mary's College of California and adviser to the Religion, Politics and Globalization Center at UC Berkeley. In Spring 2009, he founded the Center for the Study and Documentation of Islamophobia at UC Berkeley, a research unit dedicated to the systematic study of Othering Islam and Muslims.

Shayee H. A. Khanaka was born in Kirkuk (Kurdistan, Iraq) in 1959. She, along with her family, left Kirkuk in 1974 and lived as refugees in Iran until 1979 and under semi-house arrest in Baghdad until 1981. In 1981, she immigrated to the United States in pursuit of higher education and joined UC Berkeley in 1984 as a student, where has completed a BA in Comparative Literature (1987), an MA in Folklore (1990), specializing in Kurdish humor, and an MLIS at Syracuse University (2003).

She worked as a library assistant at UC Berkeley since 1984 and as the librarian for Middle Eastern Studies since 2001.

Film Screening of Smoke Signals
7:00 pm, Wednesday, November 20, 2013, Student Union

Smoke Signals is a humorous yet serious story about Victor, a young man who Director Chris Eyresmoke signals movie describes as "trying to forgive his father." The movie gives us a glimpse into the contemporary Native American world, and is created by an almost exclusively Native American cast.

Events are cosponsored by Ethnic Studies Department, Indigenous Women's Alliance, Associated Students of Mills College, and the Diversity and Social Justice Resource Center.

Mills College Heritage Months are supported in part by the Ethnic Studies Fund. To learn about and donate to the Fund, please click here: Ethnic Studies Fund. Many thanks for your generosity in support of Ethnic Studies and students of color at Mills.

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Last Updated: 1/9/14