October 28, 2010

SIUC to celebrate Native American Heritage Month

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The month-long Native American Heritage Month celebration at Southern Illinois University Carbondale encourages people to put aside stereotypes and presumptions to learn and experience the realities of those who lived on the land before the early settlers arrived.

A variety of thought-provoking guest speakers, films, special events and activities in November gives those from the campus and community the opportunity to learn about the Native American peoples and their varied cultures. You can observe a silversmith and other craftspeople demonstrate their talents, sample bison and other native cuisine, experience the music and dance of the indigenous peoples and much more.

“When I took history classes in high school, I learned about women’s history, African American history and Hispanic history but my school failed to educate my peers and I about Native American history, and what we did learn about the Native American peoples was brief, over-generalized and somewhat filtered in order to match the lesson plans. If people here at Carbondale want to really learn about the diverse cultures of the native peoples of the Americas, they should definitely check out some of the events NASO (Native American Student Organization) is putting on this November,” said Joseph Conrad Wilson, a history and anthropology major from Millstadt with a minor in Native American Studies.

Among the highlights of the month is a return visit by popular master Cherokee storyteller Robert Lewis Nov. 19. He and Gina Burnett, also an artisan and storyteller from the Cherokee Heritage Center, will tell traditional Native American tales. Through “Stories from the Earth,” listeners will discover the Cherokee culture, heritage and values.

“Robert Lewis, Cherokee education specialist, has thrilled audiences with his humor and stories that captivate and teach. This year, Robert will return with Gina Burnett, outreach coordinator from the Cherokee Heritage Center. Their presentation, ‘Phoenix Rising, Cherokee Voices,’ will take the audience on a humorous and enlightening journey of Cherokee culture and life ways,” said Vickie Devenport, director of WSIU Public Broadcasting and Southern Illinois Radio Information Services.

All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. The schedule for Native American Heritage Month 2010 includes:

Tuesday, Nov. 2

• 7 p.m. -- Charles Birdshead presents traditional plains silverwork and Lakota art in the Student Center’s Ohio Room. Of Lakota/Arapahoe heritage, Birdshead will talk about his artwork, demonstrate his silversmith skill and tell how the Lakota have adopted and maintained traditional designs and patterns.

Wednesday, Nov. 3

• 5-7 p.m. -- Native American Food Day, Lentz Hall Dining. University Housing’s Lentz Hall will serve Navajo fry bread, bison taco bar, bison stew, corn cobbetes, yams, quinoa with roasted rellenos, squash, pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie. Students with dining plans can eat using their meal cards. The public is welcome with tickets available at the door for $8.50 plus tax.

• 7 p.m. -- “Lakota Spirituality, Ceremony, Language and Song” by Charles Birdshead in the Student Center Auditorium. Birdshead will reveal how language plays a vital part in Native American ceremony and how ceremony in turn plays a critical role in the community, from healing addicts to giving youths a renewed sense of pride and appreciation of their culture.

Thursday, Nov. 4

• 2:30-5:30 p.m. -- “Historical Demonstration and Spiritual Meaning of Dream Catchers” by presenter Cheray Barrera in the Student Center, Ohio Room. Learn from the Cherokee/Choctaw Barrera about the origin and meaning of dream catchers, which the Chippewa (Ojibwe) originally made, and see how to make them. Although some see dream catchers as symbolic of Native Americans, others think of them a negative stereotype and thus not all tribes include the dream catchers in their culture.

• 5-7 p.m. -- Fall favorites theme meal featuring Native American foods at University Hall Dining. University Housing is hosting a series of theme meals for Native American Month, covered by student dining plans and open to anyone else for the ticket price of $8.50 plus tax.

Friday, Nov. 5

• Noon-7 p.m. -- Saluki Powwow Education Workshop, Morris Library first-floor rotunda. Cricket Mahnomen (Sac and Fox) of Southern Drum gives participants the opportunity to experience Native American dances from various tribes and learn the meaning of the dances, drums and native music. This cultural event is a primer for the University’s first big powwow, planned for next spring.

Monday, Nov. 8

• 7-9 p.m. -- Lisa King’s presentation of “Borrowing for the Greater Good? Images and Indians in Avatar and Twilight” in the Student Center Auditorium. In recent years, such movies as “Avatar” and the “Twilight” series have become blockbuster hits and spawned a cultural phenomenon. But they have also created controversy regarding their use of Native American images and cultural property. This presentation explores the situation and dilemma.

Tuesday, Nov. 9

• 7-9 p.m. -- Pamela Smoot, professor of Africana Studies, offers “Present and Past Day Interactions between African Americans and Native Americans” at the Student Center Auditorium. Learn more about slavery among Native Americans, the Lumbee tribe and how the Indian Recognition Act came into play with regard to the racial caste system in the southern United States, recognizing only black and whit peoples.

Wednesday, Nov. 10

• 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. -- Native American fry bread event in the Faner Hall breezeway. Come sample the traditional fry bread and assorted toppings in support of the Native American Student Organization.

• 5-7 p.m. -- Fall Harvest feast at Trueblood Hall Dining. Come enjoy Native American foods in University Housing’s theme meal, covered by student dining plans. The public can enjoy by paying $8.50 plus tax per person at the door.

• 7-9 p.m. -- Barney Bush, a Shawnee Native American poet, Student Center, Ballroom A. Bush, a writer, recording artist, educator and poet, will read poetry from his forthcoming book “Left for Dead, Part 2,” and will tell of his experiences as a teacher and poet for more than 40 years as well as his current project working to restore the Vineyard Indian Settlement.

Friday, Nov. 12

• 7-9 p.m. -- “Brulé, Live at Mt. Rushmore: A Concert for Reconciliation of the Cultures,” Student Center, Kaskaskia Room. This film shows one of the most important Native American concerts ever, combining beautiful music with Native American rhythms and dance in a message of peace, hope and reconciliation. A discussion will follow.

Monday, Nov. 15

• 7 p.m. -- “The Real Thanksgiving” by Shannon Lindsay Toth in Lawson Hall, Room 161. This discussion, based on James Lowen’s “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” separates fact from fiction regarding the original Thanksgiving, a harvest festival early settlers held to which they didn’t invite the Native Americans who taught them survival skills.

Tuesday, Nov. 16

• 7-9 p.m. -- Mark Denzer presents “Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Perspectives on Materials, Land and Natural Awareness of Native Americans,” Illinois Room at the Student Center. Denzer, of Choctaw heritage, is the director of the Trails of Awareness Project and he’ll discuss the Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Indigenous People field of study. He’ll highlight the close relationship Native Americans have with the land and how they shape and use key resources including plants, trees, rocks, animals, water and soil to provide everything they need to survive.

Friday, Nov. 19

• 7 p.m. -- “Stories from the Earth” by Robert Lewis and Gina Burnett, Student Center, Ballroom D. Lewis, a master Cherokee storyteller, and Gina Burnett, outreach coordinator of the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah, Okla., will tell of the Cherokee culture and heritage. They’ll share traditional stories and the vital role these stories play in conveying Cherokee values. Lewis, a school and community specialist for the Cherokee Nation, focuses on outreach classes and art and storytelling services for the nation’s education department. With a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, he teaches art and native crafts and is an acclaimed storyteller. Burnett is also a storyteller and a pottery artist.

Monday, Nov. 29

• 7 p.m. -- “The Reel Injun,” film and discussion at Student Center, Missouri Room. See how Hollywood has portrayed North American Native people through the years with loincloths, fringed pats, feather headdresses and much more. In this insightful movie Jim Jamusch, Clint Eastwood, Graham Green, John Trudell and others offer insights into the sometimes demeaning, sometimes ridiculous and stereotypical way the film and television industry has portrayed Native Americans.

Tuesday, Nov. 30

• 7-9 p.m. -- “Columbus Day Legacy,” film and presentation by Bennie Klain, Lawson Hall, Room 161. This is the story of a clash involving Denver ethnic groups, a conflict that rears up each year when the Italian American community hosts a Columbus Day parade in the city. Klain, a Navajo, earned a bachelor’s degree in radio/television from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a founding partner in TricksterFilms, a Texas production company and the director of award-winning films.

“The events for Native American Heritage Month are meant to provoke thought and awareness of the tensions in our perceptions of indigenous people. I think students and community members should come to these events to develop a deep appreciation for a rich and varied understanding of a people who are all too often marginalized or caricaturized by the dominant culture,” said Serena Morrison, secretary of the Native American Student Organization.

Sponsors for NAHM include Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services, Native American Student Organization, Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor, Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Office of the Associate Chancellor for Institutional Diversity, Native American Minor, Department of Anthropology, WSIU-TV, University Housing, Department of History, School of Art and Design, College of Liberal Arts, College of Education and Human Services and Office of the Chancellor.

“Native American Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the diversity and richness of Native American history and culture. The month should create a sense of pride for those with Native American heritage and remind us that Native pride shouldn’t be shown in only one month but should always be expressed whether you are culturally connected or not. Blood is blood,” said Marcus Abston, president of the Native American Student Organization.

The SIUC Native American Heritage Month is one of the many initiatives from Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services promoting cultural competency. Other initiatives include Latino Heritage Month, GLBT History Month, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance Celebration, Women’s History Month and Asian American Heritage Month.

For more information about Native American Heritage Month and the many special activities planned, contact Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services at 618/453-5714 or Marcus Abston, president of the Native American Student Organization at mcelite@siu.edu.