"Native American Awareness Weeks are important, especially at this time in U.S. history," explains Jeanne Oyawin Eder, assistant professor in Native American studies at Eastern Montana College.
While we are busily celebrating the bicentennial of Congress and the building of a government, she says, "we often forget the land came from Indian people. Indians need to remember we ceded the ground the U.S. government is built on."Eder, who is currently living in Washington and earning a doctorate in history, will speak at Southern Utah State College's Native American Week, April 10 to 15. This year's theme is "Native American Culture in Visual Arts."
Eder gives the convocation lecture at 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 12. Her presentation is "Waheenee, Buffalo Bird Woman," a monologue in which she portrays an old Indian woman (with an elk tooth dress made by Eder's mother). Through stories and dance, Buffalo Bird Woman illuminates the sacred relationship of Indian people to the earth and animals.
For example, "Before I dance I talk about moving with dignity and stepping lightly on the back of Mother Earth," says Eder. "I talk about the meaning of the music, such as the beat of the drum. Some people call it the heartbeat of the buffalo."
Wil Numkena, special assistant for Indian education with the State Office of Education, will lecture on the symbolism in Indian Art. "The majority of non-Indian people look upon Indian crafts as artwork. To the American Indian they are symbols of tribal identity and philosophies," he explains.
At SUSC, as at other colleges around the state, Native American Awareness Week offers the community at large a chance for learning, while giving Native American students an opportunity for expression and renewal.
Art exhibits, video presentations, two sweat lodge ceremonies and presentations on Eskimo art, music and dance are also part of the week's events. SUSC's Native American Week ends with the traditional two-day powwow in the Centrum. For a complete schedule call 586-7770.
-At the University of Utah, Native American Awareness Week is currently under way. Thursday is high school day, with events beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Olpin Union Theatre. At noon Leonard Haskie, tribal chairman of the Navajo Nation, will speak on Indian policy in Washington, D.C. The Miss Native American of the University of Utah pageant will be held at 7 p.m. in the Arts and Architecture auditorium.
Friday sees 3rd Circuit Judge William Thorne of West Valley City speaking about systems of tribal court, at noon in the Olpin Union Theatre. On Saturday, at the Indian Walk-In Center, 120 W. 13th South, there will be a potluck feast at 4 p.m. followed by the 17th annual University of Utah Powwow at 7 p.m. For more information call 581-8151.
-Native American Awareness Week at Dixie College will be held April 10 to 15. Call 673-4811 for information.
-Utah State University holds a Native American Awareness Week May 8 to 13. Call 750-1000 for the schedule.