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ISSUE 121 VOL 5 PUBLISHED 10/26/2007

Native American Weeks honor

By Lyndel Owens
News Editor

Friday, October 26, 2007

Music, poems and art kicked off Native American Weeks Friday evening, Oct. 19 in Buntrock Crossroads. Sponsored by Diversity Celebrations Committee, Native American Weeks is traditionally organized by Talking Circles, the on-campus group that promotes interest and discussion of Native American events, but was coordinated by DCC and Multicultural Affairs and Community Outreach (MACO) this year.

This year's events included a Fancy Dance performance by internationally renowned dancer Larry Yazzie and his young son Jessup on Wednesday, Oct. 24 and anthropology professor Bruce Nordstrom-Loeb's chapel talk on Thursday, Oct. 25.

Larry Yazzie, of the Meskwaki/Dine Nation in Tama, Iowa, began dancing as a child of seven and has passed the tradition onto his son Jessup. "Dancing is a way of life for family. Every time we get up to dance, we think of our ancestors," Yazzie said, adding that dance is "poetry in motion."

Yazzie has performed in Australia, Ireland, Russia and was part of the City of Bloomington, Minn.'s envoy to Japan last year. After Yazzie and Jessup performed, they involved the audience by instructing them in a few dance moves.

Attendee Michael Murchison '10 enjoyed learning the dance steps Yazzie taught participants. "I thought it was a good turnout with a diverse group of people interested in his art and his experiences. Some of those dance moves aren't too different from ones I'm familiar with, but just set to a different tradition of music and a different spiritual background," he said.

DCC coordinator Trisha Salkas '09 was pleased with the support Larry received. "Oles love Larry. It's great to see all sorts of students dance with Larry and see the enthusiasm. Native American Weeks is a good chance for Oles to stop and take a minute out of their life to reflect on who they are, where they come from and how they fit in with the rest of the world," she said.

For his Thursday Chapel talk, Nordstrom-Loeb drew from his time living on reservations to examine how U.S. policy has impacted Native Americans, particularly the religious aspects.

"A lot of traditional practices were repressed for a long time under the assimilation policy [such as] keeping kids from practicing their religions while at boarding schools," he said. Nordstrom-Loeb adds that nature is often a core feature in many Native American cosmologies.

"A lot of times the spirituality ties in with their feelings about nature," he said. "They have a spiritual ecology in addition to a scientific ecology."

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