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Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center kicks off Native American Heritage Month celebrations

Since the 1970s, the Center has offered guidance and assistance to the Native American community of the greater Milwaukee area.
Posted at 12:19 PM, Nov 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-04 13:19:30-04

MILWAUKEE — November is Native American Heritage Month and one of the city’s largest non-profit organizations dedicated to the advancement of the Native community in Milwaukee is gearing up for a month of education and celebration.

Since the 1970s, the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center has offered guidance and assistance to the Native American community of the greater Milwaukee area.

CEO Dr. Lyle Ignace says the desire came from wanting to highlight the importance and address disparities of what he calls native health.

“It is certainly a unique opportunity that we offer here in Milwaukee. It is not just the providing culture and tradition but we also provide the spiritual well-being and healing that I feel most Natives feel driven and compelled to get help or just continue with their cultural traditions,” said Dr. Ignace.

To that effort, Dr. Ignace says Native American Heritage Month provides the center an additional opportunity to engage with non-Natives and underline the fact that the native community is not a monolith.

“There are 577 federally recognized tribes throughout the entire country, and each native tribe has their own dialect, their own culture, their own traditions, and it's important to realize that we are all native, but our tribes are different,” said Dr. Ignace.

One of the ways they plan to celebrate those unique traditions is through different events all month long, including a social dance on Friday with a host drum performance by Little Priest of the Ho-Chunk nation.

Organizers say activities like these are a perfect way to ensure that their traditions continue to live on.

“That makes me feel good to be able to bring that cultural awareness to the city people, to the city community, because a lot of people don't know, some people don't even know that there's Native Americans left in this world,” said Katinee Shawanokasic-Chavez, Culture Program Coordinator.

“This month is a big month for us, and we just want everybody to know in the community that we’re still here today and our culture is still alive today,” said Daniel Preston, Spiritual and Cultural Advisor.

For a full list of the Ignace Center’s events this month, head to their website.

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