Native American history celebrated

Jill Fier

Jill Fier

The 11th annual SDSU Conference on American Indian History and Culture will be held Thursday and Friday in the University Student Union.

The purpose of the conference is to “emphasize the voices of Native peoples who are in the process of reclaiming their own history.”

The participants come to share their own knowledge and experiences to increase communication and cultural awareness.

“The conference promotes the goals of greater cultural understanding, dialogue and reconciliation,” said David Crain, conference co-coordinator.

“It provides an opportunity for SDSU students, faculty and other area residents to hear Native American spokespersons share their expertise and knowledge about their traditional culture, historical experience and contemporary concerns.”

The conference will feature two nationally known American Indians. Keynote speaker Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabe) is a nationally prominent environmental activist and author. She has been a vice presidential candidate under the Green Party in both 1996 and 2000.

The Harvard graduate and author has been featured in Time magazine and has won many award for her work on Native American and environmental issues.

She will giving the conference keynote address, titled “American Indian Activism: Past and Present,” at 9 a.m. Friday in Volstorff West.

American Indian Movement (AIM) spokesperson Vernon Bellecourt (Anishinaabe) will also be presenting at the conference.

Bellecourt’s long involvement in the AIM ranges from the 1972 occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington to the Redskin Superbowl demonstrations in 1992.

He will be presenting “The American Indian Movement: 1492 to the Present” at 10 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. in Volstorff East.

Other individual presenters include: Emma Featherman-Sam (Oglala Lakota), Director of the Badlands Bombing Range Project; Craig Howe (Oglala Lakota), Independent Scholar and Consultant for the Museum of the American Indian project of the Smithsonian Institute; Oleta Wooden Knife Medansky (Sichangu Lakota), activist on environmental and other issues on the Rosebud Reservation; Valerian Three Irons (Hidatsa), moderating the Elders Panel.

“Native Americans are this states’ largest minority group and constitute a major part of South Dakota’s historical and cultural heritage,” said Crain.

All hour-long presentations will be from 9 to 11:50 a.m. or 2 to 2:50 p.m. in the Volstorff Ballroom or the Crest Room of the University Student Union.

On Thursday, videos on the conference theme will be shown in the Walder room, including the CBS Frontline special “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse”.

The conference is open to the public and is free of charge.

#1.887393:2584333845.jpg:wacipi.jpg:A ?Tiny Tot? dancer performs at the SDSU Wacipi (powwow) last Saturday night at Frost Arena. The event included both children and adult dances.:#1.887392:2683660060.jpg:Winona.jpg:Winona LaDuke will be the keynote speaker for the 11th Annual Conference on American Indian History and Culture at SDSU.:photo courtes of University Relations