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The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

Native American Heritage Month

Colorful+powwow+regalia+is+seen+during+the+Grand+Entry+at+a+powwow+on+the+Menominee+Reservation+two+years+ago.+The+dancer%E2%80%99s+powwow+outfit+reflects+their+lives%2C+interests+and+family+background.+
Photo by Bradley Perich
Colorful powwow regalia is seen during the Grand Entry at a powwow on the Menominee Reservation two years ago. The dancer’s powwow outfit reflects their lives, interests and family background.

To celebrate Native American Heritage Month, I’d like to give you four facts about Native Americans’ history here in America.

  1. Not all Native Americans lived in teepees. Despite any movie that has an indigenous population in it, there were a wide range of shelter choices varying from Longhouses made from wood to a whole village carved into a mountain. Plus, it’s cold in the northern states where obviously a teepee wouldn’t be the best fit.
  2. All of America’s land was once Native Americans’ land. Crazy to think about, but completely true. Even right now, if you are reading this story on the MATC Downtown Campus, this land was once shared by several Native American tribes. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society website: “Wisconsin’s largest city lies on Lake Michigan, where the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic Rivers come together. People had lived there for more than 13,000 years before the first Europeans arrived. At that time Milwaukee was neutral ground shared by several American Indian tribes.”
  3. The last boarding school ended in 1978. Let me describe what a Native American boarding school was. Imagine you were ripped away from your family, banned from speaking your language, and sent to a place rampant with physical and sexual abuse, corporal punishment, confinement, working heavy labor jobs for free, and the lowest living conditions with barely any medical treatment. Then, when the worst happens, you get thrown in an unmarked grave and filed as lost or a runaway. These crimes against humanity closed up shop for good in the late 1970s.
  4. Thanksgiving was the celebration of 700 dead Pequot natives. Yes, we all love our turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pie, but the Connecticut colonist likes it with a side of genocide. While all the warriors were away, our favorite third grade Pilgrims came to execute women, children, and the elderly, while also enslaving a chosen few as well. So, remember that the next time you sit down with your Thursday football and turkey dinner.

Obviously, these facts are an uncomfortable conversation to have, but some say they are the most important. Happy Native American Heritage month!

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