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NSU Symposium on the American Indian – April 10-15

Published 3/1/17

(Tahlequah, Oklahoma) -- The Northeastern State University Center for Tribal Studies has announced its 45th Annual Symposium on the American Indian will be April 10-15 in the University Center on the Tahlequah campus. This symposium’s theme is “Indian Givers: Indigenous Inspirations,” and the event will include the return of the NSU Powwow.


“The 45th Annual Symposium on the American Indian will focus on the many ways in which American Indians have contributed to mainstream, western culture through art, literature, government, and other areas of the humanities,” the American Indian Heritage Committee states on the symposium website.


The film series will kick off the symposium with two screenings: “Violet” will be shown on April 10 beginning at 6 p.m. and “Medicine Woman” will be shown April 11 at 6 p.m. Both will be presented in the Webb Auditorium.


The Opening Ceremony will take place on April 12. Beginning at 9:30 a.m., the Native American Student Association will welcome guests with comments from Sara Barnett (Muscogee Creek), director of the Center for Tribal Studies, and Jacob Chavez (Cherokee), president of NASA. The Opening Ceremony will also include a presentation of colors from the Cherokee Nation Color Guard, the Miss Native American NSU Crowning Ceremony and a special presentation from the Wewoka High School students and first year students of Maskoke Seminole Language class.


Keynote speakers presenting at the symposium include Jacklyn Roessel (Navajo), founder of Grown Up Navajo and former education and public programs director at the Heard Musseum; Dr. Jeff Corntassel (Cherokee), associate professor and graduate advisor in the School of Indigenous Governance at the University of Victoria; Dr. Devon Mihesuah (Choctaw), professor in International Cultural Understanding at the University of Kansas; Tim Tingle (Choctaw), author and storyteller; and Dr. Jenny Davis (Chickasaw), assistant professor of American Indian Studies, Anthropology and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois.


Rounding out the activities will be the return of the NSU Powwow on April 15. The day will begin at 2 p.m. with a Gourd Dance, dinner will begin at 5 p.m. and the Grand Entry/Intertribal begins at 7 p.m. and closes out at midnight.


For a full schedule of events and more information about the symposium, visit


About the theme “Indian Givers: Indigenous Inspirations”

“The term ‘Indian Giver’ has a rather negative connotation in American culture, reflecting one of the greatest cultural misunderstandings of Western history,” the American Indian Heritage Committee states on the symposium website.


The committee further explains that Lewis and Clark have been credited with coining the term, as they did not quite understand the gift exchange and bartering practices of the local tribes and perceived them to be unfair or even insulting.


“While there were obvious differences in culture, beliefs, and customs of Indigenous people and what would eventually become the dominant western culture, the two have managed to coexist. In fact, there are many areas in which American Indian culture has influenced and inspired the development of modern culture.”

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