The Foundation for Muskegon Community College has received a $22,100 grant from the Michigan Humanities Council (MHC) to support the inaugural Native American Heritage Month celebration on campus in November 2016.
The award was one of nearly $650,000 in grants to 28 cultural organizations in Michigan under the MCH’s Heritage Grants Program. Muskegon Community College is partnering with The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians on this project.
The grants support a variety of projects that use history and humanities approaches to shed light on present-day social issues as they relate to the intersection of ethnic identity, racial equity, and cultural heritage, according to the MHC. The Heritage Grant Program is made possible by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
“The Heritage Grant awards will fund a variety of excellent projects that bring authentic voices to critical racial, ethnic and cultural issues throughout Michigan,” said Shelly Kasprzycki, the MHC Executive Director. “We are honored to partner with the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to engage in this work.”
MCC faculty member Hollie Benson, who coordinates the College Success Seminar, is the catalyst behind the Native American Heritage Month. She said the grant will support a series of events, including the appearance of award-winning Native American novelist, poet and screenwriter Sherman Alexie.
Alexie’s semibiographical novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, has been required reading in the College Success Seminar the past year and has sparked meaningful campus conversations on the cultural differences and struggles Alexie faced while attending a predominantly Caucasian high school near the Spokane Reservation in the state of Washington.
In advance of Alexie’s talk, twelve local libraries will hold a county-wide Community Reads program, encouraging as many people as possible to read the book in September and October and participate in book discussions at the local libraries.
The Native American Heritage Month celebration is tentatively scheduled to include speakers, a film, and a mini-powwow. Details will be finalized and shared as the event approaches.
“Muskegon’s rich history includes Native American influences,” said Benson. “This is a great opportunity to learn about Native American culture while, at the same time, expanding our discussion about how we come from different cultures but share a commonality.”
Alexie’s participation meshes with the intent of the MHC grants “to fund projects that bring forward the voices of groups that are often marginalized to share their stories and record their history in ways that are meaningful and impactful in their communities.”
This year’s MHC’s grant award recipients include oral histories, exhibits, digital archives, documentaries, performances, school programs, and community conversations that share and preserve the experiences of Michigan’s diverse people.
For details on individual grant awards, please contact Joseph Cialdella, Program Manager, Michigan Humanities Council, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (517) 372-7770.
For more information on MCC’s Native American Heritage Month, contact Hollie Benson at email@example.com or at (231) 777-0331.
Native American Heritage Month is made possible in part by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or Michigan Humanities Council.