Four Directions event highlights Native American culture

Courtney Joyner

Four Directions, the Native American and Indigenous Collective’s annual welcome program, took place on the Main Mall on Tuesday night.

NAIC, a division of the Multicultural Engagement Center, is an organization geared towards creating an open space for students who identify as a Native American, indigenous or are curious about those cultures.

“What we do mostly is we interact with the community,” NAIC co-president Yasmeen Davila said. “We try to bring the students in so they can learn about Native American issues and indigenous issues.”

Davila, a history junior, said last night’s events were specifically geared toward new students on campus.

“[Four Directions] is about visibility, and it’s about interacting and trying to get Native American and indigenous first-year and transfer students to know that there are campus resources that are specifically for them and that they’re not by themselves that it’s an identity that they can claim,” Davila said.

Luis Carcamo-Huechante, associate professor of Spanish and director of Native American Studies, said the organization’s purpose is to build a community focused on Native American and indigenous culture.

“[We want] to provide a space for members of the faculty and members of the student community to study the languages, culture and history of Indigenous people at UT-Austin,” Carcamo-Huechante said.

The event, which included face and rock painting, informational tables and poetry by the student organization Spitshine, was successful in drawing in students from outside the organization, said Emily Oertli, a civil engineering senior who attended the event.

Oertli is not a member of the organization but said she is interested in culture and is glad NAIC provides a space for students to learn about the Native American community.

Jasmine Bell, psychology junior and director of Spitshine, said she hopes those who attended Four Directions will be inspired to embrace their culture. The featured poems often include personal narratives about decolonization, or the undoing of colonialism.

“Decolonization is a very relevant theme in a lot of indigenous peoples’ lives,” Bell said. “Even though none of our performers are indigenous, we have also grappled with similar experiences that involve decolonization, and I think it’s important to show how different marginalized people can share a connection while still recognizing each have a unique experience.”