On November 9, I produced a Native American Heritage Month celebration at Pembroke Mall in Virginia Beach. As part of Schilling Media, Inc.’s diversity-oriented outreach programs, I have held this event for the past four years and have achieved success and fantastic comments from the attendees, the mall administrators and the participants.
Some people wonder why we hold the event at a mall, but it makes sense. November is not necessarily weather-friendly and in a mall, many unsuspecting shoppers are treated to Native American culture. It is a good way to educate people who may not know about Native culture.
Over the past four years, I have learned what works and what doesn’t work—anyone can put together their own event. Here are 5 steps to produce your own Native American Heritage Month Celebration.
I suggest starting out about nine months ahead of time, call your local mall (or community center or any other appropriate venue) and ask to speak with the person in charge of event planning. Tell them you want to have an event in November and are willing to do all the work. Ask if they have space for dancers to change and eat lunch. Also ask if you can do this at no charge if you promote the mall. Call them again every two months until November to check in.
An attendee at the event, Debbie Vick, gets close and personal with the red-tailed hawk ‘Wakan’ courtesy of Michael Manard of Sacred Friends, Inc.
Get Local Sponsors
Ask local businesses if they would like to support the Native American Heritage Month event with a little money, free lunches, printing of flyers or radio or TV support in exchange for putting their logos in the program, social media support and public thanks at the event. Don’t be afraid to ask, you’d be surprised how many people like to support their community. Not everyone has money, but can offer “in-kind” (non-monetary) donations.
Create a Buzz
Do not slack on this one. Find out if your sponsors are on social media and have your friends support your sponsors. Get the word out as much as possible. In addition, create dynamic flyers—Google Picasa is great free editing software.
Do not just rely on social media to get the word out, make personal phone calls to each dancer, drummer and singer to get them to show up to the event. Also, if you can, compensate them if you get sponsors.
The Namawochi Singers Drum Group, a name that stands for Native Man, Woman and Child, impressed the crowd with their drum songs at Pembroke Mall in Virginia Beach.
Take Advantage of Media
As the event is a month away, create a well-written press release—a way to tell media about your event—and send it to the local news outlets. Contact local television and radio programs and ask if you can appear on talk shows to plug the event.