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Native American Heritage month shines light on awareness obstacles

November 13, 2021

UW-River Falls is using Native American Heritage month to bring awareness to students about issues related to the Indigenous community. 

Celebratory months are an opportunity to highlight marginalized populations but also a chance to incorporate practices throughout the year and that goes for all of our identities.

Ian Stroud is the Interim Director for the office of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) and the Director of Student Success. Stroud is leading the initiatives surrounding this month. He identifies as full American Indian with his tribal affiliations being Navajo, Cherokee, and Creek. 

Stroud’s goal is to bring awareness to the obstacles that Native Americans face, not just this month, but all year round. He mentioned the statistic that three out of every five Native American women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. DIB planned a “Taco bout it Tuesday'' to discuss current topics like missing and murdered Indigenous women, which will take place on Nov. 23. 

Throughout the year, the university's goal is to take continuous action to spread awareness about Native American issues, according to Stroud.

“Although it is an essential time to celebrate a marginalized population, I don't think that this is the only specific time to celebrate the community,” said Stroud.

Stroud said his goal is to come up with more impactful practices, rather than just acknowledging the institution’s contributions to disenfranchisement and systemic oppression of Indigenous peoples. 

“We want to say here are our action steps rather than saying here is stolen land,” said Stroud.

 One of the things that Stroud is currently working on is the UWRF land agreement. He said it is about 90% complete.