The Blue & Gold

The official newspaper of Chamblee High School, preserving the past for the future today!

The official newspaper of Chamblee High School, preserving the past for the future today!

The Blue & Gold

The official newspaper of Chamblee High School, preserving the past for the future today!

The Blue & Gold

Celebrating National American Indian Heritage Month

Monserat Olivera
Dr. Vachon-Connors display of her collection of historical objects from Serpent River First Nations and the Bear Clan.

The month of November was named National American Indian Heritage Month in the 1990s. U.S. Department of the Interior–Indian Affairs says their continuous goal is to celebrate the traditions and stories of Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Island communities without fear of losing value. There are many different types of indigenous peoples all with differing cultures. Throughout North America, there are many tribes that are still alive such as the Navajo Nation, Apache Nation, Lumbee, etc. 

The number of Native Americans at Chamblee High School is very small, only five percent. Moreover, many of those are native to Central or South America. 

“My mom wants to send me to Guatemala to learn more about my indigenous family history. I know I have some relation to a tribe in the northwest. I can’t because I’m in school. But I’m worried I’ll never have time to connect with my roots,” said a student who did not wish to be named. 

Dr. Angelique Vachon-Conner, one of Chamblee High School’s assistant  principals has indigenous ancestry, all the way from Canada. The term “First Nations” is preferred over Native Americans in Canada.

“I am Ojibwe, a member of Serpent River First Nations and the Bear Clan located in Cutler, Ontario, Canada,” said Dr. Vachon-Conner. “The Ojibwe people call themselves Anishinaabe which means the “True People ” or the “Original People’.” The Anishinaabe are divided into clans. The Bear Clan (Nooke) is responsible for defense and healing. My grandfather, William Albert Owl (Metigwab), was a Canadian Veteran and served as Chief of Serpent River. My uncle Percy Owl serves currently as Fire Chief.”

Ontario is the second-largest province in the country. Though it is now known as an economic capital, Ontario resides in the middle of many natural beauties such as the Hudson Bay and James Bay of Quebec to the east, and the Great Lakes to the south.

“The reserve is heavily wooded, so you must be careful as you travel. Walking from my Uncle Bill’s home to my Aunt Theresa’s home requires you to wear your ankle bells to let the critters know you are close by. They don’t want to encounter you any more than you want to encounter them,” said Dr. Vachon-Conner. 

Indigenous people have faced many issues with colonizers, and their relationship with their land since the colonization of North America first began in the 1400s. 

“The residential school that is located on the reserve stands empty to this day. The school is a sad reminder of the atrocities native children faced, such as being removed from their families and sent to residential schools. Some never returned. Some say the place is cursed. I have lived in the US for a long time but have not forgotten where I come from,” said Vachon-Conner. 

The people indigenous to North America have continued to fight for their rights against societies placed over them. Science Direct claims that nearly sixty percent of Indigenous People are threatened by industrial development. 

“Since I am First Nations, my grandfather purchased an area of land on the reserve in Cutler. We affectionately call it Owl Hill,” said Vachon-Conner. “We must always fight to protect it. Hydro Canada, a leading supplier of electricity, tried to encroach on our land, but our members successfully banded together to stop them.” 

The media center kept up with the many festivities and thus has worked to spread awareness on National American Indian Heritage Month through literature. 

“I am honored that you are asking and I love to spread awareness. It is important to know your history and your culture. We are all our ancestors,” said Vachon-Conner. “I want this display to be something that kids can see and touch because they’ll probably never get a chance to be exposed to these kinds of things.”

Books that are being highlighted in the Media Center include but are not limited to: 

  • Way to Rainy Mountain by N. Scott Momaday
  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
  • Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, Diplomat by Paula Gunn Allen
  • Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country by Louise Erdrich
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
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About the Contributor
Monserat Olivera, Staff Writer
Monserat Olivera (‘24) is a senior and a writer for the Blue & Gold. In five years, she hopes to be working on important projects. Her three favorite things are autumn, her headphones, and strawberries.

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