Week-long event to conclude with mascot discussion
The student group Native Americans at Dartmouth scheduled a week of several cultural events, lectures and discussion as part of this first annual week-long event.
First Nations Week kicked off on Tuesday with lectures on linguistics in American Indian education and native health professionals. Subsequent lectures focused on substance abuse prevention and relations between native tribes and state governments.
On Friday, NAD will host a panel discussion on Native American Studies focusing specifically on American Indians and the War in Iraq and Judicial Issues in Indian Country.
"The purpose is to not only to give awareness of native issues, but to give native students avenues to see that they can make a difference and that there are so many things for them to do," Melanie Montgomery '09 said.
Thursday night's lecture, which focused on tribal relations with state governments, featured Sarah Sotomish, Washington state's Tribal Relations Administrator and Pearl Capoeman-Ballar, former president of the Quinault Indian Nation.
"The goal is a greater awareness of where Native Americans have been, where they are now and where they are going tomorrow. If Dartmouth students have a greater understanding of this at the end of the week then [First Nations Week] has been successful," Capoeman-Ballar said.
Speakers throughout the week have emphasized what they see as a need to bring perceptions of Native American culture closer to reality.
"History books are outdated, and while the internet helps students become more aware, there is a long way to go," Capoeman-Ballar said.
Capoeman-Ballar also touched on the need to eliminate ignorance about Native American relations with the government on issues ranging from taxes to casinos.
"The most important job for the Indian people is to educate," Sotomish said.
NAD began planning First Nations Week throughout the Fall term, members said, but the idea was born about two years ago.
"Students started making concrete plans for First Nations Week in the beginning of Fall term this year, working hard to put together the event in the short amount of time they had," Montgomery said.
Montgomery said that as the initial year for First Nations Week, the events have been a learning experience for those involved.
"This year we are the guinea pigs, we're taking note of who we are getting here, how we are fund raising; we want a record of what went well and what is possible for the future," Montgomery said.