Group crosses ‘Cultural Bridges’

The University’s Native American Unity Council will spend today and tomorrow hosting speakers and events in hopes to educate the campus and community on the culture of Native Americans.

The two-day event is called “Native Perspectives: Crossing Cultural Bridges” and is in honor of Native American History Month.

The event begins today at 10:40 a.m. with an opening blessing followed by a flute performance and a day’s worth of speakers. There will also be speakers all day tomorrow. Two speakers will discuss the cultural myths and lesser known realities surrounding Thanksgiving Day.

Tomorrow’s festivities will finish with the University’s second annual pow wow. The pow wow will include Native drumming, music, dancing and storytelling. The pow wow will be in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom from 7-10:30 p.m. An estimated 1,000 people are expected to attend, according to Bianca Hutchinson, the vice president of the BGSU Native American Unity Council.

Hutchinson said she hopes guest speakers will help dispel myths about the Native American culture. “We wanted different speakers to clear up stereotypes,” Hutchinson said. “We hope it will give students a huge clear-up of myths.”

One of the most common stereotypes that surround Native Americans is that of appearance, according to Hutchinson.

Hutchinson, a Native American with blonde hair and blue eyes, said, “Many people have a preconceived idea of what Native Americans should look like: dark skin, dark eyes and dark hair in braids.”

Hutchinson described the pow wow event as very hands-on and an opportunity for students and community members to learn about the culture and some of the sacred and religious elements included in the culture. “We are taking them across the bridge to our culture.”

Joy Hartwell-Lein, an adviser to the Native American Unity Council, said she hopes the speakers and events will allow students to view historical events, such as the holiday of Thanksgiving, from a different perspective.

“A lot of school textbooks have been written from the ‘white’ perspective … there is more than one story. There are other people who played a role in history.”

Another topic that will be discussed tomorrow evening from 5-6 p.m. is the development of a minor in Native American Studies. Hutchinson will pursue a minor in this area once it is approved.

The courses and faculty for Native American Studies are already in place, according to Hartwell-Lein. “It just has to be approved, it makes sense to take it one step further,” Hartwell-Lein said.

Editors Note: For more information on the events contact the Center for Multicultural and Academic Initiatives at (419) 372-2642.