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Saturday, September 23, 2023

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SDSU forward Matt Michell wears the Nike N7 turquoise jersey during a 2018 game against Jackson State. (Photo: GoAztecs) SDSU forward Matt Michell wears the Nike N7 turquoise jersey during a 2018 game against Jackson State. (Photo: GoAztecs)

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month

SDSU is partnering with Nike’s N7 program as part of its celebration of Native American Heritage Month.
By SDSU News Team

San Diego State University and Nike N7 are once again coming together on Monday, Nov. 25 to celebrate the university's commitment to the education, health and wellness of indigenous communities.

The SDSU men’s basketball team will wear turquoise uniforms against Tennessee State in celebration of Native American Heritage Month. The color turquoise represents harmony, friendship and fellowship for many Native American communities.

It is the 12th year of Nike’s N7 program and the ninth year the brand has created NCAA uniforms for the N7 program.

SDSU is partnering with Inter Tribal Sports (ITS), an organization that features year-round youth sports and enrichment programs designed specifically for Southern California Native American communities. Through the partnership, SDSU has been able to introduce Native American youth to the rich opportunities for learning and career development that exist on university campuses.

During halftime, members of the ITS and SDSU cheer teams will perform a routine together on the court. Bird singers will also be performing in the concourse prior to the start of the game. The American Indian Veterans Association will present the color guard and perform the National Anthem.

San Diego County is home to the greatest consolidation of tribal nations in the country, as well as a large urban Native population as well. 

Earlier this semester, the University Senate unanimously approved a resolution to acknowledge Native and Indigenous people and to take specific action in support of the Kumeyaay. The resolution formally acknowledges that SDSU resides on land not officially ceded, and that has been home to the Kumeyaay people for more than 10,000 years. 

SDSU NewsCenter sat down with Chris Medellin, interim assistant director of the SDSU Native Resource Center, to discuss the significance of the N7 game and the Native Resource Center.

Why is this event of great significance for SDSU and the Native American population?

The N7 game is an opportunity to show people that Native American people are still here. It is important to acknowledge the original people of this land, and we do that with this event as part of Native American Heritage Month. Beyond that, many Native youth can envision themselves attending college through their involvement in sports. This helps reinforce to our youth that they can achieve the things that they put their mind and energy into. 

What resources does the SDSU Native Resource Center provide to students?

As a new center, we have yet to roll out a full list of services for our students. Currently, we have a mentorship program called Elymash Yuuchaap, which helps first-year students and transfers transition to the university. We also have workshops and social events for students and the community to get involved with topics and issues focused on Native American identity. We have been running talking circles to facilitate discussions around stereotypes, culture, identity, and current events. Looking forward to next semester, we will have more opportunities for students across campus to learn more and engage in the Native American community through workshops, discussions and our annual Pow Wow (gathering). 

How does SDSU show its commitment to the Native American community in San Diego?

The Nike N7 Native Night basketball game is one way that this school shows a commitment to the community. There is the Native Scholars and Collaborators Project, the Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming, and SDSU is one of very few universities that offers a major in American Indian studies. This sets the institution apart because students of all backgrounds have the opportunity to learn about the original inhabitants of the land and earn a degree in the field. SDSU is within 100 miles of more than 20 Native reservations, and this means there is a lot of responsibility to give back to a community that is largely underserved and often forgotten. There is more work to be done but building a home on campus for Native American/Indigenous students is the next big step along with bringing onboard a Tribal Liaison to better serve the tribal communities.