Dear SPIA Community,
November 1 is the beginning of Native American Heritage Month in the United States. All month, we will celebrate the Native American roots that are deeply embedded in this country and the vital contributions that Native Americans have made to advancing our nation and its culture.
Our interconnectedness with native and indigenous people is undeniable. As you may know, there are historic links between Princeton University and Native Americans who once inhabited this part of the northeast. In fact, the very land that our university is built on is considered part of the ancient homelands of the Lenni-Lenape peoples. In recent years, the University has made a concerted effort to highlight this history as part of our effort to create a more inclusive Princeton. You can read more about that effort, land acknowledgements, and the history of Native Americans who inhabited this area here.
As a policy school, it is particularly important that we give voice to the unjust practices and policies that have often marginalized the Native Americans who have been the inhabitants of this land since time immemorial. I hope we will dedicate our collective work to ensuring greater equity and fairness with regard to some of these ongoing challenges.
Last week, the 14th Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, joined us for a conversation on diversity in communities. This week, in keeping with that theme, she and her team at the Library share this resource which celebrates the words and works of Native Americans. It is a wonderful project that highlights the personal journey and histories of Native Americans, in their own words.
Please refer to the University’s website for updates on events and programs happening on campus which will honor Native American Heritage Month, including a special presentation and food tasting on November 15 featuring renowned Navajo Nation Chef Walter Whitewater as he brings some of his favorite recipes from Red Mesa Cuisine to Princeton.
The perseverance and commitment of Native Americans – despite unjust and oppressive barriers - is something I have long admired. This month and going forward, I hope that all of us within the SPIA community will effort to reflect on and honor the many ways that Native Americans have devoted themselves to our country and its democratic ideals.
Amaney Jamal, Dean