Global Awareness Festival 2024

2024 Global Awareness Festival Focuses on Native American Culture Wednesday, March 20 and Thursday, March 21

The Muskegon Community College (MCC) Global Awareness Festival returns this year on Wednesday, March 20, and Thursday, March 21, 2024, at MCC’s main campus. This year’s festival, “Native Voices: Voices, Perspectives, and Celebrating Resiliency,” will showcase the rich tapestry of Native American culture, featuring presentations by local Native citizens, student panels, performances of dance and drumming, artisan vendors offering their works, food and refreshments. The event is free and open to the public. Please contact Evin Rodkey, MCC Anthropology Instructor, at with any questions.

See below for a complete festival schedule: 


Global Awareness Festival 2024

Native Peoples: Voices, Perspectives, and Celebrating Resiliency

Muskegon Community College

Wednesday March 20 and Thursday March 21, 2024

Please note that, in the spirit of collaboration, for presentations following our kickoff we have built in time for you to ask questions and even speak with the presenters after. We encourage you to join in the discussion!

Also set up for on both days will be Admissions and Recruiting representatives from Grand Valley State University. For MCC students looking to transfer, stop by to learn more!

Wednesday March 20, 2024:

10:00 am

Kickoff Performance and Presentation

Blue and Gold Room (room #2049)

Evin Rodkey, Ph.D., Muskegon Community Colleges full-time Anthropology Instructor, will welcome guests to the event and provide an overview of the happenings of the next two days. Following we will be treated to a welcome song by Hand Drum Singer Mike Medawis, a citizen of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. From there Larry Romanelli, Tribal Ogema (“Chief”) of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians will welcome guests to Little River land and speak further on matters of land sovereignty. Dr. John Selmon, the President of Muskegon Community College, will further welcome guests to the college.

10:45 am-12:00 Noon

Jonathan Rinehart presenting “Resiliency”

Blue and Gold Room (room #2049)

Jonathan is a Behavioral Health Clinician with the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi and a citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

Jonathan describing his presentation:

Resiliency means reuniting with cultural practices that honor our ancestors and encourage our descendants. In Indian Country we are all recovering from something, not just adverse statistical data, but from historical trauma. As the original people of this land we did not only inherit trauma; we also inherited resiliency. In this presentation we voyage through a journey of one Native American’s path of resiliency. 

1:30-2:30 pm

Elizabeth Rinehart presenting “Promoting Anti-Bias Education: An Indigenous Point of View”

Blue and Gold Room (room #2049)

Elizabeth is a Visiting Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, College of Education and Community Innovation, at Grand Valley State University and a citizen of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. 

Elizabeth describing her presentation:

Everyone has biases, so how do we promote anti-bias education? Strategies for promoting anti-bias education and having tough conversations with children can be simpler and more straightforward than we tend to make it. In this talk, the following questions will be answered: What is anti-bias education? Why do we need it? How do we promote it? 

2:45-3:45 pm

Grace Boda presenting “Reclaiming Indigenous Knowledge”

Blue and Gold Room (room #2049)

Grace is employed as the Talent Acquisition Manager for Waséyabek Development Company, the holding company of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, and a current doctoral student in the Organizational Change Leadership program at Western Michigan University. Her research is focused on Anishinaabe leadership of the 3 Fires People utilizing an Indigenous methodology. Grace is a citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and a descendant of Grand River Bands. She was born and raised in Grand Rapids, where she has continued to live, work, and play most of her life.

Grace describing her presentation:

Indigenous culture, values, and beliefs were interrupted by the European settlers. Today we continue to struggle to reclaim our cultural ways. Much of what we are taught in school is based on the ways of the dominant culture. In my studies of leadership, I found Indigenous ideas lacking in the literature. My goal is to learn about leadership from the perspective of my Anishinaabe community and our ways of knowing that existed before colonization by European settlers. Adding an Indigenous perspective to academic literature will benefit not only Indigenous communities but society in general.

4:00-5:30 pm

Student Panel Featuring Native Students on Their Perspectives and Experiences

Blue and Gold Room (room #2049)

To close out the first of our two days of events, come to hear from local Native citizens on their perspectives and experiences here at MCC and beyond!

Thursday March 21, 2024:

Come Support Local Native Artisans!

Beginning at 10:00 am a variety of Native vendors will be set up for the day, until approximately 5:00 pm, selling a variety of goods. This takes place in Collegiate Hall (room # 2040), a large open room centrally located in the college building, just below the main entrance, where all events for today will take place. This is adjacent to the Blue and Gold Room from yesterday’s events.

Vendors include:

Courtney Biggs, specializing in painted beechwood bowls

Kevin Harris II, Art of Culture Dept. LLC, specializing in modern Native apparel

Isaac Gann, Isaac Customs, specializing in custom print-on-demand apparel

Monee Zapata, Two Bears Crossing, specializing in Potawatomi design apparel and beadwork

Beth Bush, Bradley Settlement, specializing in earrings, beadwork, and bandolier bags

Lyllian Kops, specializing in ribbon skirts, shishiguans (shakers and rattles), feast (silverware) rolls, medicine pouches, and earrings

And finally, Lynette Sias and possibly others (note vendors subject to change)

11:00 am-12: Noon

Evin Rodkey, Ph.D. presenting “The Importance of Cultural Perspective”

Collegiate Hall (room # 2040)

Evin is Muskegon Community College’s full-time Anthropology Instructor. He invites you to explore a wide range of human culture and the variety of ways people come to understand the world around them in ANTH 103 “Cultural Diversity in Contemporary Society” (3 credit hours, International Culture) and further explore anthropology with a focus on how biology and culture have shaped humanity and our evolutionary heritage in ANTH 105D (4 credit hours, Non-Lab Science) here at MCC. Both courses are offered on campus and online.

Evin describing his presentation:

In this presentation I will draw on key concepts from the field of anthropology to discuss the importance of cultural perspective. In particular, I will focus on how non-Natives can come to see aspects of Native American history and culture from Native points of view, including the initial encounters with Europeans and the role of Native Americans in U.S. history beyond the usual (and often inaccurate and sometimes harmful) perspectives most non-Natives learn. A non-Native himself, Evin will focus on how looking at these issues with attention to such cultural perspective promotes a more effective understanding of the status of Native Americans today.

12:00-2:00 pm

FREE FOOD and Student Panel “Perspectives on Being an International Student”


Collegiate Hall (room # 2040)

For an event we hold at each Global Awareness Festival regardless of the particular theme, Muskegon Community College Chief Diversity Officer Ken James will host a group of students who have come to MCC from abroad. These students will share their perspectives on being cross-cultural students and guests to West Michigan. We will also share information on how YOU can become an international student through MCC’s study abroad program!

2:00-3:00 pm

Rob Larson presenting “Indigenous Food Sovereignty”

Collegiate Hall (room # 2040)

Rob is an Affiliate Professor in Natural Resource Management and Geography & Sustainable Planning at Grand Valley State University, as well as a member of the GVSU Native American Advisory Council. Rob is a citizen of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi and an Indigenous ecologist with a background in natural resource management, incorporating two-eyed seeing (see the presentation on this below) and traditional ecological knowledge into Western science within research and management.

Rob describing his presentation:

In this presentation we will explore tribal sovereignty as it applies to the realm of food, focusing on human health, ecological aspects, and what food sovereignty looks like from an everyday perspective, including how it can be integrated into one’s life.

3:00-4:00 pm

Ed Pigeon presenting “Black Ash Basketry: A Story of Cultural Resilience Revisited”

Collegiate Hall (room # 2040)

Ed is the Anishinabek Curator at the Grand Rapids Public Museum and a Citizen of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Potawatomi Indians.

Ed describing his presentation:

The art of black ash basketry has faced challenges that threaten its long-term sustainability. I helped produce the 2010 documentary film, Black Ash Basketry: A Story of Cultural Resilience, a collaborative project of Great Lakes Lifeways Institute, Grand Rapids Community College, and Goodwille Environmental School, which explored this problem. Here I will revisit this material and discuss what has occurred since then from the perspective of myself and my family.

4:00-5:15 pm

Two-Eyed Seeing and Relationship Building in Higher Education (presented by select faculty and collaborators from Grand Valley State University)

Collegiate Hall (room # 2040)

Two-Eyed seeing is a powerful methodology grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing and doing that is rooted in Mi’kmaq lifeways, but a framework practiced by Indigenous Nations across Turtle Island. The power in this approach is the bringing together of Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science to find solutions to problems that impact society. In this roundtable discussion, we will talk about how this approach is being practiced at GVSU with faculty, staff and Indigenous community partners, and the importance of bringing in Indigenous ways of knowing, doing, and being into higher education to benefit Indigenous students and the greater student population.  

5:30-6:30 pm

Closing Performance with Native Dancing and Drumming!

Collegiate Hall (room # 2040)

To wrap up the event we will be treated to a dance performance with drumming and singing provided by Look Out Hill, a group out of Grand Rapids made up of performers from across Michigan and the Great Lakes region.

Our dancers will be:

Ofelia Zapata, Traditional Potawatomi Dancer and singer with her family’s drumming group Southern Straight. Ofelia is a citizen of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi and a mother of two daughters who are also dancers.

Aanzhenii Dandridge (Jingle Dress Dancer) is a citizen of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi. Aanzhenii is a junior in high school, and a varsity basketball player aspiring to play in college and pursue a career in accounting and finance.

Asunciana Dandridge (Fancy Shawl Dancer) Citizen of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi. Asunciana is a middle school student and a dancer of the arts from Over the Top Dance Studio where she also specializes in jazz, tap, ballet, hip hop, and contemporary dance. She would like to attend a college with an amazing dance team and dreams of owning her own dance studio someday.


The organizers of this event are Evin Rodkey (Anthropology Instructor), Ed Breitenbach (Dean of Instruction and Assessment), Emily Busch (Library Technician/Archival Assistant), Ismael Enríquez (Spanish Instructor), and Ken James (Chief Diversity Officer), all of Muskegon Community College.

The organizers would like to give special thanks to:

Lin Bardwell, Assistant Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Grand Valley State University and Citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

Steven Dorland, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Anthropology Department at Grand Valley State University.

Cammie Castaneda, Northern Office Supervisor, Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi

Their wonderfully helpful partnership made these events possible and we deeply appreciate all they have done and all they do every day for this community.

For generous financial support, we also give special thanks to:

Jennifer Drake, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Michelle McCloud, Assistant Dean for Budget & Staff Affairs of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Grand Valley State University

Dan Yakes, retired Muskegon Community College Instructor

Further thanks and appreciation go to:

Stacey DeBrot and AJ Osbourne with Muskegon Community College Auxiliary Services

The Muskegon Community College Marketing and Communications office, including Kristin Tank (Chief Marketing and Communications Officer), Daniel Boothe (Communications Manager), Isabel Grace (Digital Marketing & Communication Strategist), Allison Cooper (Graphics Project Coordinator), and Jon Mills (Video Communications Manager)

Muskegon Community College Graphic Design Instructor Kevin Kyser and his students

And of course our deepest appreciation goes to our wonderful presenters, performers, vendors, and others contributing to this special event.

And to those who make it out to the events – thank you!