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TLU Hosts Inaugural Celebration of Native American Heritage Month

Join Texas Lutheran University for a variety of events, performances, and special chapel services centered around Native American Heritage Month. The campus and surrounding community are invited to hear from influential local leaders who are using their platform to educate others about the history and traditions of indigenous cultures. All events are free and open to the public.

Nov. 1 at 10 a.m.
Chapel with Vance Blackfox '99 (Cherokee)

Chapel of the Abiding Presence

Vance Blackfox, an Indigenous Theologian and citizen of the Cherokee Nation, is the founder and director of Other+Wise.

Vance Blackfox '99

The multi-site cultural education and cultural immersion program for youth and student groups from across the country. He serves the church-wide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) as the director of Indigenous Ministries and Tribal Relations.

Nov. 1 at 7 p.m.
The Blanket Exercise

Chapel of the Abiding Presence

Led by Vance Blackfox, the exercise is interactive and requires participants, as they are able, to stand and move throughout the first hour of the experience. The second hour allows for participants to process the experience and share what they may have learned and what they will take away. The Blanket Exercise was first created in Canada and has been adapted and used to educate general populations there, in the United States, and in many other parts of the world.

The exercise does engage participants both intellectually and emotionally and can in some instances affect individuals deeply. Due to the honest nature of the information included in the narration of the exercise, all participants are expected to be 15 years of age or older.

Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.
Film Screening

Wupperman Little Theatre, Schuech Fine Arts

Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.
Dr. Mario Garza (Coahuiltecan)

Indigeneity of Hispanics: How Ancient Indigenous People Came to be Erroneously Identified as Hispanic

Dunne Conference Center, Tschoepe Hall

Dr. Mario Garza

Dr. Mario Garza is an elder of the Miakan/Garzas Band of the Coahuiltecan, a state-legislature-recognized tribe of Texas. He has a multi-disciplinary Ph.D. from Michigan State University and he currently researches and presents educational lectures about Native Americans.

Dr. Garza has decades of involvement in the Native American community, including repatriation of remains, successful development of indigenous nonprofits, re-establishment of ceremonial sites, Native arts and events, and political issues.

Nov. 17 at 10 a.m.
Rev. Cornelia Eaton (Navajo)

Chapel of the Abiding Presence

Rev. Canon Cornelia Eaton serves as canon to the ordinary. She is dedicated to serving the beloved people of God and to encourage the laity to have active roles in the life of the Church, believing that we all live into our baptismal covenant.

Rev. Cornelia Eaton

Rev. Eaton enjoys sharing God’s love, hope, and grace with all of God’s people through Holy Scripture and Navajo spirituality of Hozhó—Peace and Beauty Way. She is a storyteller and a writer of poetry with a particular focus on the Navajo way of life known as Iina Biké Hozhó–being in harmony with divine creation through spirituality, culture, tradition, and relationship.

She has deep love and appreciation for the outdoors and enjoys mountain biking, fly-fishing, camping, hiking, and tending to her family sheep camp.

Nov. 20 at 7 p.m.
Dr. Aaron Pyle (Choctaw) Native American Flute Performance

Ayers Recital Hall, Schuech Fine Arts

Dr. Aaron Pyle is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and an active contributor in the Central Texas Intertribal community.

Dr. Aaron Pyle

He is a member of the Four Winds Intertribal Society, serves as Co-Chair of the Sacred Springs Powwow, and is a member of the Indigenous Cultures Institute’s Board of Elders.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Anthropology from Texas State University, a Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on Native American experiences in education.

Nov. 29 at 10 a.m.
Excerpts from Indigenous People Liturgical Celebration

Chapel of the Abiding Presence

The Indigenous People’s Liturgical Celebration was created by Dr. Kelly Sherman-Conroy during her doctoral studies at Luther Seminary. Dr. Sherman-Conroy is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in Pine Ridge South Dakota and an active member of the American Indian/Alaska Native Lutheran Association Inc. board of directors. This liturgy was created to respect both Lutheran and Native Traditions.

The ELCA Truth & Healing Movement

TLU is one of just 26 colleges and universities associated with the ELCA. In August 2016 at the church-wide assembly, members of the ELCA adopted the Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery. In September 2021 the ELCA Church Council adopted “A Declaration of the ELCA to the American Indian and Alaska Native People.” The ELCA is currently involved in a Truth & Healing Movement. You are invited to learn more about and get involved with this important work at