Middlebury

Symposium looks at culture and challenges of native indigenous tribes

January 4, 2008

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? Middlebury College will host a symposium examining the culture and challenges of native indigenous tribes - past, present and future - from Monday, Jan. 7 through Wednesday, Jan. 16. All events, which include lectures, panel discussions, film screenings and a dance performance, are free and open to the public.

According to student organizer Bobby Joe Smith III, the symposium aims to shed light on differences and similarities among various native and indigenous tribes in the United States and elsewhere. "We hope this will help create more awareness on campus for various aspects of tribal culture, native identity and some of the prominent issues affecting the lives of these communities," Smith says. Smith, a junior, is a Lakota/Sioux from the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota.

On Monday, Jan. 7, the symposium begins with a keynote address and panel discussion on the topic of "Abenaki Identity and Survival in the 20th Century" at 7 p.m. in McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Room 220, located on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125). Vermont-based ethnohistorian John Moody and his wife, Donna Moody, an Abenaki and co-founder with her husband of the Winter Center for Indigenous Traditions of White River Junction, Vt., will provide a personal perspective on native identity. Their presentation will take a cultural approach to the discussion of what it means to be native, with an emphasis on indigenous spirituality, music and art.  They will look at the changing image of the Native American in the 21st century and the challenge of maintaining indigenous communities that look forward to the future while remaining rooted in ancient beliefs.

On Wednesday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m., there will be a screening and discussion of the film "Black Indians" in McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Room 216. This one-hour documentary explores the history of Native Americans and African Americans, examines what drove them together and then split them apart, and delves into the challenges the two groups face today. The film engages several important topics, including the term "Black Indian," Black Indian identity, Black Indians' perceptions of non-Black Indians and the social construction of race. Following the screening, William Hart, associate professor of history at Middlebury College, will lead a discussion of the film in the context of present-day political issues affecting Black Indians.

James Fitzsimmons, assistant professor of anthropology at Middlebury College, will lead a lecture and discussion on "The Rise and Fall of Ancient South American Civilizations" on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 4:30 p.m. in McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Room 220. Fitzsimmons is a Mesoamerican archaeologist who researches the anthropology of death, the rise of complex societies in Mesoamerica, and the origins of writing. He is currently directing an archaeological project at the Classic Maya (250-850 AD) site of Zapote Bobal, Guatemala.

There will be a screening of the Australian film "Rabbit-Proof Fence" on Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m. in McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Room 220. Set in 1930s Australia, the film is based on the true story of a young black Australian girl who leads her younger sister and cousin in an escape from an official government camp, set up as part of an official government policy to train them as domestic workers and integrate them into white society. The film follows the girls' epic journey, one step ahead of the authorities, over 1,500 miles of Australia's outback in search of the rabbit-proof fence that bisects the continent and will lead them home.

The dance troupe Native American Performers (NAP) of Baltimore, Md., led by Keith Colston, will give a performance on Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Great Hall of McCardell Bicentennial Hall. NAP performs in full traditional regalia from native cultures from across the country. As part of their music and dance performance, they explain the significance of their attire and of the various dances and invite the audience to learn the steps.

On Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 4:30 p.m., Darren J. Ranco, assistant professor of Native American studies and environmental studies at Dartmouth College will give a lecture and lead a panel discussion titled "Environmental Degradation and Its Effects on Native and Indigenous Tribal Communities" at the Robert A Jones '59 House, located on Hillcrest Road, off College Street (Route 125). Ranco will discuss environmental degradation and its impact on native and indigenous tribal communities with an emphasis on Indian Country, tribal diplomacy and the environmental justice movement.

The final event of the symposium will be a lecture by Middlebury College Associate Professor of Anthropology David Stoll titled "Challenges Facing Indigenous Organizations in North and South America" on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 4:30 p.m. in Room 220 of McCardell Bicentennial Hall. Stoll's talk will focus on the ongoing struggles for sovereignty and civil and political rights, as well as current issues for native tribes in Guatemala.

The symposium is co-sponsored by the Middlebury College Student Symposium Committee, Rohatyn Center for International Affairs and the Office for Institutional Diversity. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact student organizer Bobby Joe Smith III at (612) 701 4243 or email bjsmith@middlebury.edu.

To follow is a schedule of symposium events:

Middlebury College Symposium: The Culture and Challenges of Native Indigenous Tribes - Past, Present and Future
January 7-17
All lectures and events are free and open to the public.

Monday, Jan. 7
7 p.m. Keynote address: "Abenaki Identity and Survival in the 21st Century"
John and Donna Moody
Room 220, McCardell Bicentennial Hall, located on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

Wednesday, Jan. 9
7 p.m. Film and discussion: "Black Indians"
Discussion leader: Middlebury College Associate Professor of History William Hart
Room 216, McCardell Bicentennial Hall, located on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

Thursday, Jan. 10
4:30 p.m. Lecture and discussion: "The Rise and Fall of Ancient South American Civilizations"
Middlebury College Assistant Professor of Anthropology James Fitzsimmons
Room 220, McCardell Bicentennial Hall, located on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

7 p.m. Film: "Rabbit Proof Fence"
Set in 1930s Australia, the film is based on the true story of a young black Australian girl who leads her younger sister and cousin in an escape from an official government camp, set up as part of an official government policy to train them as domestic workers and integrate them into white society. The film follows the girls' epic journey, one step ahead of the authorities, over 1,500 miles of Australia's outback in search of the rabbit-proof fence that bisects the continent and will lead them home.
Room 220, McCardell Bicentennial Hall, located on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

Tuesday, Jan. 15
7 p.m. Dance performance: Native American Performers (NAP)
NAP performs in full traditional regalia from native cultures from across the country. As part of their music and dance performance, they explain the significance of their attire and of the various dances and invite the audience to learn the steps.
Great Hall, McCardell Bicentennial Hall, located on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

Wednesday, Jan. 16
4:30 p.m. Lecture and panel discussion: "Environmental Degradation and Its Effects on Native and Indigenous Tribal Communities"
Dartmouth College Assistant Professor of Native American Studies and Environmental Studies Darren J. Ranco
Conference Room, Robert A. Jones House, located on Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125)

Thursday, Jan. 17
4:30 p.m. Lecture and panel discussion: "Challenges Facing Indigenous Organizations in North and South America"
Middlebury College Associate Professor of Anthropology David Stoll discusses ongoing struggles for sovereignty and civil and political rights, as well as current issues for native tribes in Guatemala.
Room 220, McCardell Bicentennial Hall, located on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

The symposium is co-sponsored by the Middlebury College Student Symposium Committee, Rohatyn Center for International Affairs and the Office for Institutional Diversity. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact student organizer Bobby Joe Smith III at (612) 701 4243 or email bjsmith@middlebury.edu.


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