Groups across Colorado are celebrating Native American Heritage Month starting this weekend and throughout November. Activities range from petroglyph site tours to cultural dances and Indigenous art on display.
About 74,000 people who identify as American Indian/Alaska Native live in Colorado, according to the 2020 Census Bureau and there are an estimated 370 million Native Americans in 70 countries around the world.
This weekend, the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder will host the Creative Nations Indigenous Arts Market and Festival. The event will feature music by Levi Platero and poetry and dance by other indigenous artists, as well as a display by Native artist Walt Pourier.
“A lot of our vendors are also going to be selling art that you can just look at," said directing manager Nevra Murdoch. "You don't have to buy, but if you want to come and look at their art, they always appreciate it.”
The event runs from Saturday, Nov. 4 to Sunday, Nov. 5 and is free except for a ticketed concert. The Dairy Arts Center is located at 2590 Walnut St. in Boulder. Find the schedule here.
For a more serious activity, there’s a lecture at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, looking at how data collected about Native Americans isn’t always reliable, looked at how sometimes people who aren’t actually indigenous, say that they are.
A lecture on Nov. 8, titled “Indigenous Educational Experiences and Survey Research,” delves into what happens when people misidentify themselves as Native — often for financial gain or to qualify for an opportunity designated for someone who actually is.
JD Lopez, 38, is from the Quechan nation, which borders Arizona, California and Mexico. He will be coming to present the talk from Tucson, where he's a professor at the University of Arizona’s Center for the Study of Higher Education.
“So what I've done is just collected a lot of survey research from various topics from college affordability, persistent sense of belonging, those types of topics,” he said.
Over time in this discipline, Lopez has found that sometimes, when people refer to themselves as Native American and they actually aren’t, that skews the data.
“You find a lot of limitations when you look at federal or state data," he said. "So most of my research has been trying to focus on mitigating some of those limitations and then finding ways to be able to just produce better and more accurate data for those communities, for our Indigenous communities.”
The lecture starts at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at the Lory Student Center 288, Colorado State University Fort Collins. If you can't make it in person you can register here to get the Zoom link.
Other activities include two-Indian Museum leading tours of the Shavano Valley Petroglyph site outside Montrose on multiple dates throughout the month.
And for those who’d prefer to stay home, both Denver Public Library and the Denver-based American Indian College Fund have put together lists of suggested books and films with Native American themes on their websites.
You want to know what is really going on these days, especially in Colorado. We can help you keep up. The Lookout is a free, daily email newsletter with news and happenings from all over Colorado. Sign up here and we will see you in the morning!