On Wednesday, Nov. 13, Native American Student Programs (NASP) held Native Jam Night, a culturally immersive event to showcase Native American culture and heritage. The annual event was held at 5 p.m. at UCR’s R’Garden. The event was not limited to students of Native American heritage; it was open to students, staff, faculty and anyone from the community that was interested in the event.
As the first performance began, people slowly entered the muddy grounds of the garden. Anyone who signed into the event was able to help themselves to free tacos and refreshments before they sat. The event also had booths and tents set up if anyone was interested in learning more about NASP, Native American culture, specific programs and various opportunities on how one could contribute to the Native American community on campus and outside of UCR.
According to Joaquin Tarango, a program coordinator of NASP, Native Jam Night was intentionally held in the R’Garden. “Holding this event out here is to also show the community what we have here. We also have our own office plot in the garden which students come and plant,” he said. Tarango later mentioned that the R’Garden isn’t a well-known place compared to other sites at UCR, nor is it visited as often as he would like, despite the efforts of individual students and various student organizations that stop by to plant various greeneries. They wanted to simultaneously publicize the R’Garden and showcase Native American culture and traditions in a modern way by incorporating singers of today’s generation.
This year marks NASP’s sixth annual Native Jam Night; the event brings the community and students together as they immerse themselves into this Native American musical event. The first performers were dressed in traditional clothing and encouraged the audience to come to the front and join in their dancing. “These people are Cahuilla bird singers, they’re singing traditional songs to bless and cleanse the area and bring everyone here in a good way,” stated Tarango.
Every year NASP tries to bring out different artists with various genres of music so they can provide variety for everyone. “First off will be Levi Platero, he’s Navajo. His genre of music is blues, rock and roll and he jams out. After we will have Tall Paul, he’s hip-hop and he’s going to tell his life story and what he’s gone through as a Native American,” stated Tarango. After the the Cahuilla bird singers laid the foundation for a traditional mood to the event’s atmosphere, Levi Platero took the stage and began his performance. The sound of various instruments and modern acoustics drew in more students and members of the community.
Vincent Veerbeek, a second year master’s foreign exchange student, who was at the event since its start, didn’t want to miss a single moment of the Native American culture being showcased at the event. Many of the audience members appreciated how NASP provided both a traditional and modern approach to music that was performed at the event.
“I’m actually here in America to study about Native American culture,” stated Veerdeek, “I believe that UCR has great programs such as these to create a welcoming environment to celebrate different cultures.”
Native Jam Night concluded at 8 p.m. as the audience members danced to the last song, ate their last taco and slowly started dispersing from the vicinity. Native Jam Night concluded the events NASP planned for Native American Heritage Month; however, NASP will be hosting other events, such as the Ms. UCR Pow Wow 2019-20 Pageant Competition. According to their site this event is “an inter-tribal social gathering celebrating Native American culture and traditions through singing, drumming, and dancing.” Anyone interested in getting involved with their programs and services, such as American Indian Outreach and Intertribal Peer Mentor Program, can visit their website, nasp.ucr.edu.