Middlebury

Symposium October 15-31 examines challenges to indigenous cultures

October 1, 2009

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? Middlebury College will host a student-organized symposium examining the current issues and challenges facing indigenous cultures from Thursday, Oct. 15, through Saturday, Oct. 31. All events, which include lectures, panel discussions, film screenings, exhibits and performances, are free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by the Middlebury College student organization, Voices of Indigenous People.

By uniting current indigenous leaders, prestigious academics, and cultural innovators, this symposium will attempt to facilitate integration, give voice to pressing indigenous issues, and raise awareness of the indigenous experience in the Americas. According to Rosa Giuliana Saavedra, student organizer, some highlights will be: the artwork of Ester Hernandez, the poetry of Bobby Gonzalez, hands-on Abenaki basket-weaving and a performance by Ecuadorian dance and theatre troupe Urama-Shikan.

On Thursday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m., the symposium will begin with a lecture titled "American History through the Eyes of a Puerto Rican Indian" by Bobby Gonzalez. Gonzalez, a nationally known multicultural speaker, storyteller and poet, will draw on his native Taino and Latino roots for his talk. It will take place in Room 216 of McCardell Bicentennial Hall, located on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125).

On Monday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m., San Francisco visual artist Ester Hernandez will deliver the keynote address, titled "Translucent Borders: An artistic journey through Indigenous America and beyond." Ester Hernandez is a San Francisco visual artist best known for her pastels, paintings, and prints of Chicana/Latina women. Her work reflects the political, social, ecological, and spiritual themes born from community pride, a commitment to political action, and an abiding sense of humor. This event will take place in Room 229 of the Axinn Center at Starr Library, located on Old Chapel Road off College Street (Route 125).

On Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 4: 30 p.m., Middlebury College Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology David Stoll will discuss "21st Century Mayan Moderne: The Ixil Mayas of Guatemala." This lecture will begin with a discussion of the causes of Mayan immigration to the United States, such as their inability to sustain themselves by farming, and the pressures of overpopulation. Stoll will continue with a description of the experience of those unable to return. Severed from their native community and cultural heritage, they face the daunting challenges of trying to survive and raise a family in a foreign land often hostile to their existence, both as Mayans and as immigrants. Stoll's lecture, which will take place in Room 219 of McCardell Bicentennial Hall, will focus on Mayan cultural revitalization organizations in Florida and in Seattle.

On Saturday, Oct. 24, at 2 p.m., Abenaki basket weaver Jesse Larocque will demonstrate his art in Coltrane Lounge, located in Adirondack House on College Street (Route 125). Abenaki Indians have been making ash baskets for thousands of years, originally using ash pounded from logs. Baskets served a wide range of functions, such as fishing traps, cooking and burden baskets, currency, baby cradles and more. Larocque's baskets express the living tradition of his Abenaki ancestors.

On Monday, Oct. 26, at 4:30 p.m., Dennis Norman, faculty chair of the Indian Health Initiative for the Harvard University Native American Program (HUNAP), will deliver a lecture titled "Why is the Red Man Blue?" He will focus on the current status of the mental and physical health of American Indians and Alaskan natives. This event will take place in the conference room of the Robert A. Jones House, located on Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125).

On Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 4:30 p.m. in the Orchard Room of Hillcrest Environmental Center, located on College Street (Route 125), there will be a joint-presentation on North and Latin American issues of struggle, identity and ethnicity. Middlebury College Associate Professor of History William Hart will begin with a lecture titled "First Peoples: A History of Conflict, Change, and Self-Determination in Native North America, 1500 - 2000." Middlebury College Assistant Professor of Spanish Roberto Pareja will follow with a lecture titled "Ethnic and Class Identities in Latin American Indigenismo." There will be subsequent discussion about change and modernity in Latin America and the United States.

On Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m., a screening of the 1998 film "Smoke Signals" will take place in Dana Auditorium in Sunderland Language Center, located on College Street (Route 125). Set in Arizona, it recounts the journey of two Native American friends, Victor and Thomas. When Victor's estranged father dies, the two men embark on an adventure to Phoenix to collect the ashes. Along the way, the film illustrates the ties that bind these two very different young men and embraces the lessons they learn from one another.

On Friday, Oct. 30, an 8 p.m. performance by theatrical group Urama-Shikan will take place in McCullough Social Space. Urama-Shikan, which means in Quechua "something different from the South," is an Andean music and dance company of more than 20 artists. They will present the best of their indigenous culture in "Introspección Andina" (Andean Introspection), a work that focuses on the history and worldview of the Andean man.  Introspección Andina is a fusion of music, dance, literature and photography.

On Saturday, Oct. 31, at 2 p.m., the symposium will close with a student panel discussion in Mitchell Green Lounge in McCullough Student Center. Panelists include members of several Middlebury College student organizations, including Voices of Indigenous People (VIP), International Students' Organization (ISO), Active Minds, Alianza Latinoamericana y Caribena and Distinguished Men of Color. This discussion will focus on native identity, stereotypes and the cultural realities of today's native student.

The symposium is sponsored by the Middlebury College Student Symposium Committee and Voices of Indigenous People. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact student organizer Rosa Giuliana Saavedra at (786) 877 9566 or rsaavedr@middlebury.edu

To follow is a schedule of symposium events:

Thursday, Oct. 15
6 p.m.  Lecture and Discussion: "American History through the Eyes of a Puerto Rican Indian"
Bobby Gonzalez, multicultural motivational speaker, storyteller and poet.
Room 216, McCardell Bicentennial Hall, located on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

Monday, Oct. 19
7 p.m.  Keynote Address: "Translucent Borders: An artistic journey through Indigenous America and beyond"
Ester Hernandez, a San Francisco visual artist.
Room 229, Axinn Center at Starr Library, located on Old Chapel Road off College Street (Route 125)

Wednesday, Oct. 21
4:30 p.m. Lecture and Discussion: "21st Century Mayan Moderne: The Ixil Mayas of Guatemala"
Middlebury College Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology David Stoll.
Room 219, McCardell Bicentennial Hall, located on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

Saturday, Oct. 24
2 p.m.  Demonstration: "Indigenous Traditions: Abenaki Basket Making"
Jesse Larocque, traditional Abenaki basket maker.
Coltrane Lounge, Adirondack House, located on College Street (Route 125)

Monday, Oct. 26
4:30 p.m. Lecture and Discussion: "Why is the Red Man Blue?"
Dennis Norman, faculty chair of the Indian Health Initiative for the Harvard University Native American Program.
Conference Room, Robert A. Jones House, located on Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125)

Tuesday, Oct. 27
4:30 p.m. Lecture and Discussion: "A Comparative Perspective: Change and Modernity in Latin America and the U.S."
Middlebury College Associate Professor of History William Hart will present "First Peoples: A History of Conflict, Change, and Self-Determination in Native North America, 1500 - 2000" and Middlebury College Assistant Professor of Spanish Roberto Pareja will present "Ethnic and Class Identities in Latin American Indigenismo," followed by discussion.
The Orchard, Hillcrest Environmental Center, located on College Street (Route 125)

Wednesday, Oct. 28
7:30 p.m. Film: "Smoke Signals"
Dana Auditorium, Sunderland Language Center, located on College Street (Route 125)

Friday, Oct. 30
8 p.m.  Urama-Shikan performs "Introspección Andina" (Andean Introspection)
Urama-Shikan is an Andean music and dance company of more than 20 artists. Through a fusion of music, dance, literature, and photography, they will present the best of their indigenous culture in this theatrical work on the history and the worldview of the Andean man.
McCullough Social Space, McCullough Student Center, located on Old Chapel Road off College Street (Route 125)

Saturday, Oct. 31
2 p.m.   Lecture and Panel Discussion: "Native Identity Discussion: Stereotypes and Realities"
Student speakers will include members from the following Middlebury College organizations: Voices of Indigenous People (VIP), International Students' Organization (ISO), Active Minds, Alianza Latinoamericana y Caribena and Distinguished Men of Color.
Mitchell Green Lounge, McCullough Student Center, located on Old Chapel Road off College Street (Route 125)

The symposium is sponsored by the Middlebury College Student Symposium Committee and the student organization, Voices of Indigenous People. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact student organizer Rosa Giuliana Saavedra at 786-877-9566 or rsaavedr@middlebury.edu.