From our beginnings in the early 1980s, a cornerstone of our educational mission has been the belief that some of the best learning takes place when people tell their own story, in their own words. Year after year, outstanding Native leaders have come to campus offering their insights as elders and leaders in their Native communities, and sharing their perspectives as writers, scholars, artists, activists, teachers, and cultural preservationists. Native teachers from some of the hundreds of Native Nations have offered courses on campus, visited our classrooms as guest lecturers, and dialog with students, in person and live via Skype and teleconferencing.
We have been blessed with visits from many renowned and distinguished individuals, such as:
Wilma Mankiller, former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation
Peterson Zah, former President and Chairman of the Navajo Nation
Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper, Turtle Clan, Onondaga Nation, Haudenosaunee, Six Nations – Iroquois Confederacy
Walter Echo-Hawk (Pawnee), Native American Rights Attorney, author, professor
Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna Pueblo), award-winning writer
Ada Deer (Menominee), former Menominee tribal leader and Assistant Secretary, Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs
Henrietta Mann (Cheyenne), educator and former president of Cheyenne and Arapaho College
Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne, Hodulgee Muscogee); poet, writer, lecturer, curator and policy advocate
Dave Archambault, II, former Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman
John Echohawk (Pawnee), Executive Director of the Native American Rights Fund
Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Tradition of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe for the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota peoples, and many others. Chief Looking Horse discusses White Buffalo Prophecy
LaDonna Harris (Comanche), founder of Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO)
William Gollnick (Oneida Nation of Wisconsin), former Tribal Chief of Staff and General Manager, two-time US Presidential appointee in service to Indian Education
Gerard Baker (Mandan, Hidatsa), former Superintendent of Mt. Rushmore National Memorial and Little Bighorn National Battlefield, and most recently, interim executive director of the Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation
As part of their regular coursework, students learn from films, artwork, scholarship, music, and literature produced by Native people and read Native news publications and tribal websites. Through classes and other opportunities facilitated by our program’s faculty, students have traveled to visit and study in diverse indigenous communities such as the Navajo Nation, the Eastern Band of Cherokee, the Native Village of Tuntutuliak, Alaska, the Yankton Sioux Reservation, Pine Ridge (Oglala Sioux) Reservation, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Pueblo of Acoma, the San Carlos Apache Reservation and Native Hawaiian communities on the island of Kaua`i. We have been honored with classroom presentations by lecturers from diverse tribal backgrounds, including: Blood Tribe, Wiyot, Mandan, Hidatsa, Choctaw, Apache, Lakota, Eastern Band of Cherokee, Cheyenne, Monacan, Shawnee, Seneca, Seneca-Cayuga, Onondaga, Wampanoag, Pascua Yaqui, Navajo, Hopi, Oneida, Ojibwe, Lumbee, Salish, Isleta Pueblo, Yup'ik, Chickasaw, Luiseno Band of Mission Indians, Delaware, Mohawk, Huron, Tuscarora, Modoc, Mohegan, Hodulgee Muscogee, Chippewa, Comanche, Inuk, Alutiiq, Pawnee, Yuchi, and so on.
In addition, faculty and students attend and participate in Native American cultural events in the region and beyond, enriching their cultural awareness and appreciation. NAS activities allow students to learn about and visit important nearby sites such as the Grave Creek Mound Archaeology Complex in Moundsville, West Virginia, the Meadowcroft Rockshelter near Avella, Pennsylvania, home to artifacts dating back 16,000 years, the Alcoa Foundation Hall of American Indians at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Ohio’s Great Serpent Mound, the Newark, Ohio Earthworks complex, and Ft. Necessity National Battlefield, among others.
Our program has been represented at such important gatherings as the annual convention of the National Congress of American Indians, the American Indian Studies Consortium, the conferences of the American Indian Studies Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Conference, and the Native American Literature Symposium, USET-United South and Eastern Tribes meetings, as well as the 2004 grand opening ceremonies for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.