CSUF News Center

‘Raising Visibility: Indigenous Representation, Rights and Recognition’

Campus Celebrates Native American Heritage Month

Cal State Fullerton celebrated the history of all indigenous peoples, including the Kizh, Acjachemen and Gabrielino-Tongva of the region, during an evening of storytelling, ceremonial singing and dancing, and playing the Native American “stave game.” The Native American Heritage Month Celebration and Recognition event on Nov. 6, hosted by CSUF President Fram Virjee and his wife, Julie, honored the diverse cultures, traditions, histories and contributions of native people.

Dancer Jackson Rolling Thunder Nunez performed the Native American Chicken Dance, which honors and mimics the prairie chicken, and captures the male-female courtship.

All those attending the cultural celebration received a Native American “stave game,” also called the stick game, and used permanent markers in different colors to decorate one side of the bamboo stick with symbols.

Campus members had some fun and joined in the Native American “stave game,” led by Jacque Tahuka-Nunez of “Journeys to the Past,” a descendant of the Acjachemen people of Orange County. “Don’t just make (the stave game) tonight and put it in a drawer; use it and play an indigenous Indian game,” said Tahuka-Nunez, an award-winning Native American storyteller and educator.

Joely Proudfit, a descendant of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indians, delivered the keynote presentation on “California Indians: Yesterday, Today and Forever.” Proudfit is chair and professor of American Indian studies and director of the California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center at Cal State San Marcos.

“California Indian history is a unique history, a fairly tragic one. But it’s also a story of resilience.”
— Joely Proudfit

The Inter-Tribal Singers performed traditional Native American music using instruments such as the flute.

Michelle Castillo, a community advocate for native issues of the Acjachemen and Chicana nations, gave the opening prayer and blessing. Born and raised in Anaheim in one of the first citrus camps from the early 1900s, known as La Colonia, Castillo was raised by her activist grandmother and grew up surrounded by a group of strong community women.

CSUF President Fram Virjee welcomed guests to the cultural celebration, attended by community and campus members, including Native American students, and faculty and staff members.

“As a campus community that prides itself on its diversity, that sits on Native American land, and as a Titan family that always aims to extend equity and access to all students everywhere, we can and must do more to honor our indigenous people.” — CSUF President Fram Virjee

Jacque Tahuka-Nunez of the Acjachemen tribe shared stories about her journey as a Native American woman and mother, and led audience members in song and dance.

“We are still invisible to the world. Children today ask me, “Are you really a Native American?’ In their minds they think we still live in a storybook. Our message is more important than ever. This is our country together, we all must respect everyone — and never forget the indigenous people.”
— Jacque Tahuka-Nunez

Jackson Tahuka Rolling Thunder performs a ceremonial dance.

CSUF’s Rosalina Camacho, from left, coordinator of the WoMen’s and Adult Reentry Center; Harry Le Grande, vice president for student affairs; Julie Virjee; Native American storyteller Jacque Tahuka-Nunez; keynote speaker Joely Proudfit; Eric Tippeconnic, lecturer in history and a member of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma; President Fram Virjee; and Inter-Tribal singers and dancers Jackson Rolling Thunder Nunez and Pearson Tahuka-Nunez, pose following the celebration.

Audience members joined in the Native American Round Dance, an intertribal celebration of friendship and fun.

“The beauty of the dance is what ever happened yesterday is gone. You come to the circle and no one is better than you, and no one is less than you. We are all equal. So when we dance together, it’s the heart of humanity,” said Native American storyteller Jacque Tahuka-Nunez.

For more information about CSUF’s Diversity Initiatives and Resource Centers, visit the website or call 657-278-4391.