The Daily Illini

Native American House celebrates national Native American month with moccasin workshop

By Aaron Navarro

This month, the NAH is a little busier than usual. To recognize national Native American Heritage month, the house is sponsoring multiple events throughout November — from hosting Harvest Dinners at the dining halls to holding lunch discussions on “Dispelling Native Myths from Cannibalism to Deism to Imperialism.”

“The goal of this month is to not only bring the culture to Native American students away from home — to bring their culture to them — but then also to teach others about it as well,” said Beverly Smith, NAH assistant director.

On Tuesday, NAH hosted a “Make Your Own Moccasins” workshop, where attendees measured, cut and stitched their own pair of moccasins. Facilitated by Lyn Youngbuck, a Cherokee Chiricahua-Apache Meskwaki native, the workshop gave attendees two options for moccasins: an Eastern Woodwind style and a plain style. Youngbuck also hosted a quill bracelet workshop on Monday.

“Quillwork is a lost art, that’s why I picked it up,” Youngbuck said. “I’m sick of the beads! Everybody uses them.”

As the music videos of Native American-influenced electronic group “A Tribe Called Red” played in the background, about 20 students created their own pair of moccasins.

Dannika Anderson, MDfreshman in global studies, came simply because her friend asked her to. “She left right after she was done. She just texted me and said ‘Come make moccasins with me.’ And I said okay,” Anderson said. “It’s cool. I’m skipping homework to do this.”

George Lowery, student in Business, was interested in the event and was encouraged to attend by a class.“I’m in a class about diversity and inclusion, one that’s taught me to break some stereotypes,” Lowery said. “I more want to move away from appropriation and more towards appreciation.”

“It takes as long as it takes,” to make a pair of moccasins, Youngbuck said.

“To make a pair of moccasins like low-top eastern style center seams, those are pretty quick. You can probably whip one pair in about an hour-and-a-half, maybe two hours,” Youngbuck said. “Plain styles, there’s a lot more seams that go in, so they take longer. Those are a custom pattern to your foot, your foot is the pattern. So I guess the Native Answer is: as long as it takes.”

Both Andersen and Lowery took around an hour and a half to create their first shoe.

The workshops are funded in part by the Student Cultural Programming fee, which is part of the $66 student-initiated fees administered by the Office of the Registrar.

(https://registrar.illinois.edu/fee-info)“This is probably the peak year of our programming because we can bulk it all into one student cultural fee application,” Smith said. “So we invited a variety of different artists and people that can do workshops such as this to help students experience Native American culture while in college.”

So far, the events have had a decent turnout Smith and Youngbuck said.

“The turnout (has) been incredible, all day both days, a real constant flow,” Youngbuck said. “I’m tired, a happy tired, but I’m tired.”

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