Canadian rapper and journalist Wab Kinew gave a lecture and performed his music during the opening ceremony of Native American Heritage Month at the Diana Center on the Barnard College campus on October 31. The Native American Council of Columbia University and Barnard College will host a bevy of events throughout the month of November in recognition of Native American Heritage Month.

Rapper Wab Kinew Helps Launch Native American Heritage Month at Columbia and Barnard

Simon Moya-Smith

Approximately 80 Columbia University students and faculty flooded the Diana Center at Barnard College in New York City on November 1 to witness renowned Anishinaabe rapper and journalist Wab Kinew perform several of his original tracks, many made famous by social networking websites such as YouTube and Twitter.

As fans and admirers nudged closer to Kinew from their seats, the writer and musician interchangeably sang compositions that fused traditional Native American music with contemporary hip hop. Lakota Pochedley, president of the Native American Council of Columbia University and Barnard College, said she didn’t expect such a large turnout.

“We’ve never had this many people before,” she said to the crowd in an emotionally shaken voice. Jointly organized by the Native American Council, or NAC, the Columbia Office of Multicultural Affairs, and Student Life at Barnard College, the evening was the first of a collection of events to celebrate November as Native American Heritage Month on the Columbia and Barnard campuses.

Adrienne Keene, a doctoral candidate at Harvard University and the author of the blog Native Appropriations, is slated to be one of the next guests to speak at one of the seven remaining events this month at Columbia. The tentative date for the Adrienne Keene event, which is listed on the NAC itinerary of events as the Indian Humor Study Break, is November 26 and will begin at 9 p.m.

The location has yet to be announced. In representation of their Native pride, on Thursday, November 15, NAC will encourage all students of Native American descent at Columbia and Barnard to wear moccasins. The day has been dubbed by the students as, “Rock Your Mocs.”

One of the last events that will take place this month is a panel discussion concerning the widely controversial issue of cowboys and Indians theme parties. Students and the public will be able to ask fellow Native American peers for their take on the contentious topic. Closing ceremonies are scheduled for Friday, November 30 and will be held at 5 p.m. in Wien Lounge at Wien Hall at Columbia University. Event details have not been listed to date. For more information on all the events visit the NAC's Facebook page.

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