October 23, 2015

SIU to observe Native American Heritage Month

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale will recognize and pay homage to Native American peoples and their cultures with a variety of special activities in November. 

Native American Heritage Month 2015 includes discussions, movies and other activities. All of the events are free and open to the public. 

The festivities begin with a Kickoff at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 4, in Morris Library’s First Floor Rotunda. Gray Whaley, associate professor of history, will present a pertinent lecture. Refreshments will be available and those attending can learn more about the upcoming events. 

Walter Echo-Hawk (Pawnee) will provide the keynote presentation for Native American Heritage Month at 6 p.m. on Nov. 16 in the John C. Guyon Auditorium at Morris Library.  A Native American speaker, author, activist, attorney and tribal judge, Echo-Hawk has had a long career working to protect the legal, political, property, cultural and human rights of Native American people and tribes. 

He is the author of “In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided,” “In the Light of Justice” and other works. He taught at the University of Tulsa College of Law and has spoken around the country about his work and about Native American tribal life, culture and indigenous justice. 

Dakota Justice, a senior anthropology major and McNair Scholar, will lead a discussion about “Native Americans’ Portrayal in American Movies” at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 5 in Room 102 of the Agriculture Building. He will facilitate conversations about how Hollywood films depict and devalue Native Americans through stereotypes, particularly noting how “red racing” and “playing Indian” in films has affected the perceptions viewers have about Native people and their cultures. 

Marsha Forrest, a registered nurse of Mohawk ancestry who was raised on the Six Nationals Reservation in Ontario, Canada, will present “The Importance of Storytelling and Songs in Maintaining Culture” at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 6 in the Student Center’s Saline Room. Forest has more than 40 years of experience in the field and works as a health and wellness consultant. 

“Smoke Signals,” an independent film, considers Native American life through this tale of two friends who explore their feelings and identities as they travel. Rene Francisco Poitevin, coordinator of SIU’s Hispanic/Latino Resource Center, will lead the discussion following the movie, which is set for 5 p.m. on Nov. 9 in the Faner Hall Museum Auditorium. 

Additional films and discussions are planned during the month as well. There also will be a special exhibit at Morris Library in November. Viewers will be able to view about 130 images from the iconic 20-volume series, “The North American Indian,” by the late Edward Curtis. 

Curtis captured more than 45,000 images of North American Native Americans during his 30-year study and incorporated more than 2,200 original photos along with text and transcriptions of language and music into the “North American Indian” series. Morris Library’s Special Collections Research Center holds many of the 20 volumes in the set and the exhibit includes images from the collection. 

Native American Heritage Month is one of several heritage and history celebrations SIU hosts annually. Find the complete schedule of events online at www.inclusiveexcellence.siu.edu