A SOCIA member preparing for a Harvest dinner. November is Native American Heritage Month, although it wasn’t recognized on the campus diversity calendar. STATESMAN FILE

Originally published November 15, 2001 

The Student Organization – Creating Indigenous Awareness (SOCIA) will be holding the Second Annual Harvest Dinner today from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Peace Center. Elvira Colorado of the American Indian community house, a renowned story-teller, playwright and community activist, will be the featured guest speaker at the dinner which will offer authentic Native American cuisine. 

Earlier this week, SOCIA also hosted a beading workshop during campus lifetime at the same location. Both of these events were in celebration of what SOCIA has designated as Native American Heritage Week (NAHW) at Stony Brook. 

Although it is not recognized on the campus diversity calendar, November is Native American Heritage Month. This is why SOCIA decided to hold the NAHW at this time. Members of the group hope this week’s events will help not only promote awareness of Native American culture and history, but also to prevent subsequent omissions from the calendar and other campus materials.

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“The club wants to make the campus community aware of the fact that there are Native Americans on campus,” Assistant to the Chair of Women’s Study and avid SOCIA supporter, Colleen Wallahora, said. The organization, which celebrated its first anniversary last month, is a relatively young and small group at SBU.

Despite this fact, the group is planning a number of events for the coming semester. They have a day-trip to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum in Connecticut scheduled for Feb. 9. The museum features authentic examples of Native American housing, bead-work and pottery. SOCIA is also planning to hold a symposium on Native American culture on April 18.

“The group has been very active in trying to plan events to educate and make the Stony Brook community aware of Native American history and heritage,” Wallahora said. In addition to the events it has planned, SOCIA will also be participating in the Spring Art Festival. They will have a table exhibiting Native American literature, film, bead-work, pottery, food and dress. 

According to Wallahora, SOCIA also served as the catalyst in getting Women’s Studies course 396 established. This new course, which will also be taught by professor Hilary Aquino, is entitled Changing Women: American Indian Women’s History, and is one of only a handful of courses available that focus on Native American history and culture.

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“Native Americans are a group that’s often underrepresented, but the culture is very rich and interesting. I think it’s important that we learn about it,” SOCIA treasurer Alfred Larson said of his reason for involvement with the club. “Most people that join the club aren’t native American. Everyone is welcome,” Larson added.

Larson echoed Wallahora’s hopes that all of SOCIA’s events, as well as NAHW and the Harvest Dinner in particular, will serve to promote a sense of community and educate the SBU population about Native American culture.

 “The dinner is a good learning experience that is both educational and a lot of fun. It also brings together students who might not otherwise speak to each other. It gives students more exposure to the Native American culture and each other,” Wallahora said.

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