Native American Heritage Month 2021
November 17, 2021
November has been designated for the celebration and recognition of Native American Heritage. Our newspaper and other media outlets have failed in its accurate depiction of the Native community and culture in the past.
The State Hornet has compiled previous coverage on this page relating to the Native community in celebration of this month. Future coverage on the Native community will also be highlighted on this page.
(From left to right) Amanda Croteau, Josiah Nelson, and María Elena Pulido-Sepulveda are all Indigenous students attending Sacramento State. For them, being a part of the smallest ethnic group at Sac State means facing a lack of representation, feeling no sense of belonging and having to navigate a space that doesn’t support them. (Ayaana Williams)
Native students make up 0.23% of Sac State’s overall population, therefore students cite a lack of representation and feeling mentally drained attending a university where no one is like them.
The State Hornet spoke with three Indigenous students: Amanda Croteau, Josiah Nelson and María Elena Pulido-Sepulveda about their academic journeys and what it is like being Indigenous students at Sac State.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion editor Emma Hall shares her experiences on how being Native American impacted her career as a journalist and a student.
Cherokee and Blackfeet by descent, and being born and raised in Contra Costa County where Native Americans make up 1.0% of the county’s overall population, Hall said she often felt isolated and erased.
“I knew that because of my lone voice, I had to work harder to fight for change,” she said.
Annette Reed, one of 18 Native American faculty members at Sacramento State, has become a mentor and inspiration for Native American students at the university.
Reed, who is a member of the Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation, a tribe in Del Norte County, California, sits as chair of ethnic studies at Sac State. As a Native American woman, she has never had it easy. Through the accounts of her students throughout the years, Reed can be described as a confidant for Native students, a community leader and a pillar of strength.
J.J. Jones stands outside of the University Theatre on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. Jones plays the lead character Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Sac State’s “The Rocky Horror Show” production that opens on Oct. 20, 2021. (Ayaana Williams)
The lead character of the “The Rocky Horror Show,” Dr. Frank-N-Furter, was played by theater major J.J. Jones. She said the role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter typically goes to a tall, white and strong baritone male.
“I’m like the opposite of that,” she said. “When auditions were coming out, I was very hesitant.”
Jones said she’s Black, white, Mexican, Spanish, and Yaqui, Chumash, Blackfoot and Cherokee by descent and comes from two multiracial parents. Growing up she was not able to ask any questions about who she was.
Jones said she faced hardships being multiracial and how it has come with “really interesting kinds of challenges in ways that only multiracial people can relate to.”
“Reservation Dogs'' (2021, left) takes the extra time to show Native communities in the modern day to demonstrate the fact that they do still exist, whereas “Dances With Wolves” (1990, right) portrays Native Americans plays off of the “white savior” trope while simultaneously perpetuating the erasure of modern Native people that has become so common. (Images courtesy of FX/Hulu and Orion Pictures)
From long, in-depth documentaries, all the way to culturally topical sitcoms, there are a myriad of films and TV series that attempt to depict Native culture with varying degrees of nuance.
The State Hornet has compiled this list of films and TV series that contain Native American characters or themes that are strong representations of the culture or serve to perpetuate stereotypes and prejudices toward Native Americans.