The Native American and Indigenous Collective, a student organization that focuses on native empowerment and research, will host their second annual Indigenous Peoples’ Week through Friday.
In collaboration with the Native American and Indigenous Studies Department, the collective will hold multiple events throughout the week, including a native craft night with local Native American fashion designer Nan Blassingame and a celebration featuring indigenous hip-hop artist Una Isu.
“We want to try and make a space for Native American and indigenous students here on campus,” said Augustine Martinez, psychology sophomore and director of the NAIC. “Indigenous people and our cultures are vast and differentiating, so we try to showcase that.”
Along with the events they are hosting, the collective plans to dedicate Monday and Tuesday to the “Stand with Survivors” rally. The rally, to be held Tuesday, was organized in response to Young Conservatives of Texas at UT’s demonstrations last week in support of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and urges people to support womens’ struggles with sexual assault.
“Indigenous women are largely targeted, with high statistics of rape and those who go missing,” said Brittany Sanchez, director of finance for the collective. “It just feels really gross, knowing that so many indigenous women have been sexually assaulted. We’re already such a small population, and because it’s so small, there’s a lot of us that it’s happened to.”
Sanchez also said people often associate Native American culture with the past, so she often feels overlooked.
“This week’s all about reminding people we exist, because we’ve had a hard time showing our presence on campus,” said Sanchez, a radio-television-film sophomore. “A lot of people just think of us in terms of the past, and so this week is to remind them there’s a culture still largely present and active.”
This theme of this year’s celebration will be “All My Relations,” and is about acknowledging relationships, said Kaleb Obregon, director of social media for the collective.
“It’s about acknowledging the relationships we have to each other, to the lands we live on and the resources around us,” international relations sophomore Obregon said. “It’s a time to celebrate being indigenous.”
The week’s events will culminate Friday in a celebration hosted in the Student Activity Center ballroom.
“This week is important,” Martinez said. “I care about my people, and I want to see a better environment for us here on campus.”