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ISSUE 116 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/1/2002

'Talking' about culture

By Anonymous
Contributing Writer

Friday, November 1, 2002

Dialogue and communication are essential elements in running any organization. The new group Talking Circle incorporates these elements into its name. The circle is a communication symbol that is an intricate part of Native American culture. The concept of a circle puts everyone on the same level, equally. There are various multicultural organizations on campus representing different ethnic groups. There had not been a group specifically highlighting Native American issues until last year. Adam Bad Wound 02, founder of Talking Circle, had a vision as a Native American student. He not only wanted to be viewed as a student who loved God and tried his best in school, but to also be seen as one whose heritage is an important aspect of his identity. Bad Wound recognized the lack of regard toward his identity. In response to this area of concern, he delivered this important reality to the campus by sharing his cultural experiences. Carolyn Anderson, assistant anthropology professor with special emphasis in Native American studies, described him on graduation day last year. He wore a feather from traditional garment on the podium during his address on graduation day. It made me extremely proud. This cultural pride Bad Wound implemented by starting the group and speaking for his ethnic heritage illustrates the need for awareness. We could do more and build on what he started, Anderson said. As Bad Wound, Anderson, and others have already recognized, the concern for education and awareness exists. I think people are embarrassed or ashamed at how much they do not know, said Anderson. Increased class sizes and general interest received by professors prove that these issues are not totally absent from students minds. The mission of the group, as quoted on the Multicultural Affairs and Community Outreach homepage, states, The Talking Circle is a group of concerned individuals with the mission of promoting open dialogue discussion and events related to American Indian issues and culture. Open to all members of the St. Olaf Community, the Talking Circle promotes healthy conversation and events focusing on the inclusion of indigenous peoples as a diverse and meaningful contribution to St. Olaf College and a global society. Most Americans have Native American ancestry. This is an unrecognizable fact that has much significance in the nations history. There is a prevailing perception that Native Americans belong to the past, says Anderson. But the culture is still very much alive as Native American descendents have become a major part of the society. Christina Mills 04 and Anna Deschampe 04 currently hold positions as leaders of the group. Mills connection is related to being exposed to her grandmothers passion for the culture. Deschampe, whose father is president of the Minnesota Chippewa tribe, has also been immersed in the culture. Both girls use their knowledge in spreading cultural awareness in the new group. Anderson said that, we must start with a basic perspective. There are a considerable amount of Native American alumni that are links between the campus and the culture. Lenor Scheffler 79 spoke on campus last Thursday as she talked about life after the Hill. An attorney specializing in Indian Law, the education received from St. Olaf and others gave her the means to give back to her community. The students involved in Talking Circle have incentives that illustrate a collaborative passion. Im into what America needs to address in its own backyard, said Mills. Like other multicultural groups on campus, raising cultural awareness is a huge priority for Talking Circle. I think that Native Americans are one of those minority groups that get overlooked, we need to highlight what they are doing to preserve their culture and identity, said Mills. A new group with a new agenda brings promise to a campus that strives to increase diversity. With the passionate incentives of those involved in the cause, the members expect Talking Circle to meet its new challenges.

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