- Cullman, Alabama

December 10, 2013

Wallace State celebrated Native American Heritage Month

Former student, LaShanda April Bremer-Bennett, was keynote speaker


HANCEVILLE — Wallace State Community College celebrated Native American Heritage Month in November by hosting former student LaShanda April Bremer-Bennett, a proud member of the Navajo tribe.

Bremer-Bennett grew up in Gallup, N.M., where the largest concentration of the Navajo nation still resides. Since 2006, Bremer-Bennett has alternated living in both Alabama and New Mexico after meeting some Alabamians through summer Bible school camps on her reservation.

Bremer-Bennett, 26, moved to Alabama in 2006 and attended Wallace State before returning to New Mexico a couple of years later to attend to ill family members. She’s now back in Alabama, living in Decatur, and recently spent a couple of days on campus enlightening students, employees and the community about her rich Native American heritage.

The event marked a significant milestone for Bremer-Bennett because it was the first speech she’s ever presented to an assembly about her tribe and Native American background.

“I was nervous at times, but it was very, very important to me. I feel very honored when I talk about my people because it’s important, especially to those who understand and want to know more about various tribes and cultures,” Bremer-Bennett said. “Every tribe is different and special to each person associated with it. There’s no doubt my grandparents would be very, very proud of me of standing up and educating these crowds about my people.”

Bremer-Bennett covered multiple characteristics and traditions regarding her proud Native American heritage, including talking about her grandfather, now 91 years old, who was one of the original Navajo code talkers during World War II. A code talker used various native languages to break code during war times. Bremer-Bennett also had a table on display of baskets, quilts and dolls made by her relatives.

According to Bremer-Bennett, the Navajo Indian nation relies on beauty, peace, happiness and positive reinforcement to attain its “harmony of life.” The Navajo tribe believes in four sacred mountains: the Blanco Peak, Mount Taylor, the San Francisco Peaks and the Hesperus Peak, and its tribal colors are signified by direction through white, yellow, blue and black. It’s also the largest American Indian tribe, totaling 385,862 people among its reservation, primarily located in New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.

Bremer-Bennett’s visit was co-sponsored by the Wallace State Diversity Committee and the Wallace State Learning Communities Committee.

“It’s been a big passion of ours to educate our students and the community about Native American heritages. We actually have quite a few students on campus who represent local tribes. We were very delighted LaShanda could be our guest speaker,” said Wallace State’s Stacy Brunner, a psychology instructor and chair of the Diversity Committee. “I was fortunate to know LaShanda as a student and I’ve got to learn more and more about her. She was thrilled to be able to share how special her culture is to all who are involved.”

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