Native American Celebration to focus on heritage, traditions

Last Thursday, poet, storyteller and essayist Marilou Awiakta kicked off the campus Native American Celebration with a lecture on "Spirit, Science and Survival: Seed Thoughts for the 21st Century." Awiakta is the recipient of the Distinguished Tennessee Writer Award and the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Appalachian Literature. In a lecture based on her latest book, Selu: Seeking the Corn-Mother's Wisdom, Awiakta applied traditional Native American survival wisdom to current issues such as inner balance, ecology, gender balance, government and diversity, to begin the four-week celebration.

Events for the rest of the celebration include a lecture by professional genealogist Martha Redus, who specializes in Cherokee research. In her lecture, "Researching Cherokee Ancestors Who Remained in the East After the Trail of Tears," Redus will discuss the many records pertaining to the Cherokees that can be used to trace and verify Cherokee ancestry. The lecture will be held on Wednesday, March 27, at 7 p.m. in 102 White Hall.

In "Sweating Indian Style," a videotape by Susan Smith, a group of non-Native American women learn to construct a sweat lodge and perform their own ceremony. The video then moves to interviews with Native American women who point out the problems with the New Age phenomenon of the appropriation of Native American traditions by non-natives. The video, scheduled for 7 p.m. in 206 White Hall, will be followed by a discussion moderated by Assistant Professor of Religion Gary Laderman.

A poetry reading by Washington University Professor and nationally acclaimed Osage poet Carter Revard is scheduled for Thursday, April 4, at 7 p.m. in 207 White Hall. He also will be signing his books, which include Ponca War Dancers, Cowboys and Indians Go Christmas Shopping and An Eagle Nation.

The celebration ends with a Native American Cultural Program, billed as "an evening of cultural dialogue and artwork," on Wednesday, April 10, at 7 p.m. in 206 White Hall. Participants include renowned Western band Seminole artist Gary Montgomery, Martin Carney (Choctaw/Chickasaw) and Lloyd Arneach, Jr. (Cherokee). For information, call 727-6754.

-- Nancy M. Spitler

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