November 02, 2012

SIU celebrates Native American Heritage Month

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale will celebrate Native American Heritage Month throughout November.

Theme dinners, guest speakers, special presentations, films, poetry readings and much more allow the campus and community to learn about Native American life and issues in America today. The celebration begins with a presentation by Joy Harjo (Muskogee Creek) on Monday, Nov. 5, at 8 p.m. in Morris Library's John C. Guyon Auditorium. Harjo will read selections of her poetry and from her autobiography "Crazy Bear." A reception and book signing will follow.

The calendar also includes the film "Standing Bear's Footsteps about a chief who battled in court to prove his rights as a person, along with a discussion led by Gray Whaley, associate professor of history. Anthony Webster, associate professor of anthropology, will present the film "Racing the Rez" and discussion focusing on Native American high school cross-country runners finding their place in culture.

Damien Jones (Diné) will discuss "Navajo Healing Ways Through Academics" while Nahshon Mark Russell (San Carlos Apache) will present "Lowriders, Graffiti and Tradition: Influences of a Contemporary Artist." Mark Denzer (Choctaw) will focus on American Indian traditional ecological knowledge with a special discussion.

Roberto Barrios, associate professor of anthropology, will tell of his studies of the Guatemalan Kanjobal Maya refugees, more than 300,000 people who left Guatemala in the 1980s due to political persecution and ethnic cleansing, and of how many rebuilt their lives in Florida. Chase Manhattan (Ojibwe/Muskogee Creek/Oglala), an American Indian Music Award-winning artist, and Sten Joddi (Muskogee Creek/Seminole), an emerging Native American artist, will share their experiences as hip hop artists.

There will also be special menus for Native American theme dinners at University Housing during the first week of the celebration. That includes dinner at Trueblood Hall on Nov. 6 and a late-night dinner that evening at Eastside Express, as well as lunch on Nov. 7 at Lentz Hall.

Find the complete schedule of events for at For more information, contact Nichole Boyd at 618/201-7953 or by e-mailing

Sponsors are: Native American Student Organization, Native American Studies Minor, Center for Inclusive Excellence, Undergraduate Student Government, Office of the Associate Chancellor for Institutional Diversity, Saluki First Year, WSIU, College of Education and Human Services, and the departments of Art and Design, Anthropology, History and Radio-Television.