Learning about Native American peoples is one of many ways that Community College Initiative (CCI) Program participants develop a greater understanding of the United States as exchange visitors. In recognition of National Native American Heritage Month, here is snapshot of how the 2019-20 CCI participants have engaged with Native American history and culture so far.
Less than a month after arriving to the United States, CCI participants from Kirkwood Community College and College of DuPage visited Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa. The group went on a guided hike and learned about the site which includes mounds of earth in the shapes of various animals. There are also cone-shaped mounds for burial purposes and rectangular mounds used for unknown ceremonial purposes. The participants learned about the history and legends of the mounds, as well as the significance of the location to present day American Indian tribes who are culturally associated with the Effigy Mounds National Monument. In addition, CCI participants also learned about the collaboration between the Native American community and the National Park Service to respect and share this cultural landmark.
Meanwhile on the east coast, CCI participants studying at Northampton Community College took a trip to the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum to learn about the Native Americans of Eastern Pennsylvania. At the museum, CCI participants handled artifacts such as arrowheads, stone-axe heads, and baskets. The tour guide was so impressed by the cohort’s level of engagement that all the CCI participants were provided a complimentary pass to return to the museum for the rest of the year.
Taking advantage of Northern Virginia Community College’s proximity to Washington, D.C., CCI participants studying at NOVA’s Annandale and Alexandria campuses visited the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Participants examined the museum’s “Americans” exhibition, which demonstrates the use of Native American images in the life and history of the United States. Participants also explored the “Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World” exhibition, which features the cultural philosophies of different Native American tribes across North and South America.
As their exchange year continues, CCI participants across the country will continue to learn about Native American history, culture, and contemporary life in the United States.