Remembering key to reconciliation

Faith Moldan

Faith Moldan

Editor’s note: The Consider the Century story in the Oct. 4 issue of the Collegian was last year’s article, which was erroneously printed. The following is the story about this year’s conference, held Oct. 14.

“With a glad heart, I shake your hand,” said Gabrielle Tateyuskanskan.

Tateyuskanskan, one of four speakers at SDSU’s 17th Annual Consider the Century Conference, welcomed the audience with these words.

The conference, coordinated by Charles Woodard of the English Department, concentrated on Native American perspectives on the past 100 years. Native speakers of varied backgrounds and occupations spoke on issues of the past and the present at the conference held Friday, Oct. 14 in the Student Union.

“History is at our doorstep,” Tateyuskanskan said. “It is a shared history.”

The conference opened with Mark Daniels, chair of the Department of American Indian Studies and director of the Institute of American Indian Studies at the University of South Dakota; followed by Keith Moore, coordinator of American Indian Education for the South Dakota Department of Education.

LaRayne Willard, Moore’s sister, spoke after her brother. Willard, a Native American studies teacher at St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, shared personal experiences with the audience hoping to break down barriers by sharing a bit of her culture.

“It would be great to have one person learn (from me) and share that with others,” Willard said.

Part of Willard’s work at St. Joseph’s is cultural and spiritual enrichment for Native youth, getting kids to speak the Native language and learn from their elders because, “Without language, there is no culture,” Willard said.

Tateyuskanskan shared personal experiences as well, about her involvement in the Dakota Commemorative March. The biennial march takes place in conjunction with the anniversary of the march from Morton, Minn. to Fort Snelling that took place in November 1862.

“It is heartbreaking to observe the emotions (of those walking),” she said. “It gives hope to the living descendants.”

A number of Tateyuskanskan’s ancestors were among the killed, “disappeared,” persecuted and exiled.

“America has blood on its hands,” she said of the unpunished crimes against minorities. “I believe goodness can come out of terrible events.”

She acknowledged that changes are taking place in terms of what is being taught in history textbooks and people’s openness to different perspectives.

“It’s good to see diversity within a small state and community,” Tateyuskanskan said of the benefits of the conference. “One must be willing to listen.”

Sponsors of the conference were the South Dakota Humanities Council, SDSU, SDSU Native American Club, SDSU English Department, SDSU Journalism Department, SDSU Office of Diversity Enhancement, and the Brookings Area Reconciliation Council.