UI brings Native perspectives to Illini Union


Daniel Zhou

Mark Jordan, performer for the Native Chicago Jam, plays his guitar on stage as a part of the Illini Union’s Musical Monday in displaying Native American instruments and culture.

By Lillie Salas, Staff Writer

The Illini Union’s Courtyard Cafe displayed Native American instruments and culture on Monday as part of Musical Monday for anyone to appreciate. 

Music could be heard throughout the building and people gathered around the stage to watch as performers at the Native Chicago Jam shared their passions. 

William Buchholtz Allison, a flute and organ player, played an assortment of different kinds of flutes while explaining brief histories about each. 

“There’s a lot to our culture and our different Native communities than people realize,” Buchholtz said. “As musicians, we have to share. I was taught by my elders and most of the Natives here, from the Great Lakes to Canada. They always tell us that if you have a gift, share it. Otherwise, the Creator will take it back.” 

The artists came to the University in honor of Native American Heritage Month organized by and through sponsorships with the Native American House and the American Indian Association. 

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    Buchholtz explained how valuable it can be to give space for Native influences in areas where the culture is not highly accessible. He said the spreading of awareness of different issues can be key to providing the support that is needed to solve problem areas.

    “We don’t know exactly what’s going on, but we try to get more people to listen and people are,” Buchholtz said. “Same thing with our children at the residential schools, people are listening to more of that, and we need that. We need to share with different cultures because they understand and they work with us.”

    The evening commenced with a land acknowledgment and was followed by an hour and a half of music by each performer. 

    Music from different Indigenous tribes was showcased, along with a performance from a jingle dancer. However, along with a night filled with music, it was also a night dedicated to giving Native performers a platform to share their cultures. 

    Dorene Wiese, chief executive officer at the American Indian Association of Illinois, was a performer and the organizer that brought the performers to the University. She spoke about the importance of hosting events such as the Native Chicago Jam.

    “I want to thank the University for inviting us,” Wiese said. “I would never have imagined that we would be able to bring a group of us down, and it just makes all the difference for the performers. It really acknowledges that we exist and that there’s so many talented people from our community.” 

    Events that highlight Indigenous culture are important to sustain different cultures and provide accurate representations of Native American peoples. 

    Throughout the event, the performers shared traditions and special chants that are prevalent in their communities, but supporting Indigenous efforts goes beyond Native American Heritage Month. 

    Vocalist and guitar player Mark Jordan highlighted the ways that people can continue to support his community. 

    “There are programs and places you can go that will funnel you towards Indigenous business and those things are great,” Jordan said. “Attending powwows and the little bit of fee that they charge helps to make more powwows. When you go to a powwow, there are vendors there selling food, clothes and all kinds of memorabilia. That’s always a good way to help support.” 

    Buying from Native communities and owners is helpful to support the local economy in those areas, and it can support the owner directly which helps to further preserve Native perspectives within society. 

    At the University, there are resources for Native American students to receive support or find their community, such as the Native American House. The Native American House can be found on Instagram and Facebook with a calendar of activities planned to celebrate Native American Heritage year round. 

    “I’m proud to be a part of the community, and I’m so glad I’m able to share the music, the art and the love with new faces,” Jordan said. 


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