Webinar series to celebrate Native American culture


Photo courtesy April Lindala

Justin Van't Hof

Students from the Native American Community Engagement class will be hosting their final speaker in the two-part Digital Sustainability Webinar series at 2:00 p.m. on April 23.

Wabunungoquay Alakayak, also known as the “Morning Star Woman” or “The Woman Canoe” will be giving a talk about Native American food systems and sustainability that is open to the public via Zoom.
The course NAS 488 asked students to reach out and engage with the community by creating an event or project that brings the community together. This project resulted in the upcoming

“This is the capstone course for the Native American studies major, but it is a great course for those wanting to engage with Native American communities more directly,” said April Lindala, NAS 488 professor.
Lindala said the course was already originally on Zoom for half of the class, but when in-person classes were canceled, the change had ramifications on projects some students had already worked to set up.
“I found about six examples of digital conferencing with the National Indian Child Welfare organization, being the biggest conference having to transition to an online format,” Lindala said. “I was able to demonstrate to students that this is happening out there and shared those with the students to demonstrate that these problem-solving skills are being applied in a real-world setting.”

One of the students in the course, junior criminal justice and Native American studies major Anthony Cergnul, planned a storytelling event at the Marquette Regional History Center to bring eight traditional storytellers.

“We started the year strong with multiple ideas and we were ready to run with a few events. Then we had the pandemic happen which threw a wrench into all those plans,”
Cergnul said.

After discussing ideas to continue doing community outreach, the students decided to do a digital seminar series focused on resiliency. The students in the course decided on the theme of resilience because of its importance to the Native American culture.

“We’re constantly looking at what we’ve done and our impacts using the [idea of the] seven generations impact. The seven generations’ belief is taking the knowledge from the seven generations before us and using them to help the next seven generations,” Cergnul said.

The most important thing from this course, Cergnul said, has been being able to reach many Native American communities and share their stories with all members of the community. Lindala said she wants students taking this course to learn how to be adaptable in the face of

Indian nations have had to remain resilient for centuries during the boarding school/assimilation era, relocation and termination era, and so on. There are countless issues ranging from health to economy to governance that is simply distinct from mainstream society’s issues,” Lindala said.

She hopes that students take away the theme of resiliency, something the course has focused on throughout the semester. Those who are interested in attending this week’s talk need to RSVP by following the link: https://tinyurl.com/NAS488-N8vFoods.