A symposium on indigeneity, Local Voices, National Dialogues: Exploring Indigeneity in the United States, will take place in the Esther Raushenbush Library at Sarah Lawrence College on Friday, November 11, and Saturday, November 12.
The symposium is organized by the student group Geography Coalition, which helps to promote visibility of underrepresented indigenous groups and attendant contemporary issues.
"When many people think about Native Americans, they imagine a figure rooted in the past that has disappeared from today's national politics," said Carolyn O'Connor, a member of the organizing group of students. "The result is that the effect of the structural violence that still exists is rendered invisible," said O'Connor.
The symposium was initiated last year by Sarah Lawrence faculty member Deanna Barenboim along with a group of students concerned about a lack of awareness of issues faced by indigenous peoples, explained this year's student organizers. Their concern was prompted by an incident where students, celebrating Thanksgiving, donned stereotypical Native American dress.
"Our goal is to build a community that actively addresses issues of racial equality and all the legal, social, economic, and cultural ramifications involved," said Johanna Lawrence, another member of the organizing group.
The first symposium helped to rectify these common stereotypes while educating the community about contemporary indigenous issues. "We as a group want to continue the work that Professor Barenboim started. Our hope is that this annual symposium on indigeneity will serve as a platform to address the fight for indigenous rights and address the scale of violence against Native peoples," said Lawrence.
Guest speakers include Jeff Spitz, Sundance-award winning director of the film Return of the Navajo Boy, and Mary Begay, who is the featured activist in the film. Additional guest speakers include Judy Pasternak, international award winning journalist of Yellow Dirt, Mohawk Nation spokesperson and spiritual leader Tom Porter, Mohawk language revitalization teacher Bonnie Jane Maracle, and NorthEast TwoSpirit Society co-founder and American Indian Community Housing board member Harlan Pruden.
Events on Friday include a screening of the film The Return of the Navajo Boy, a Q&A session afterwards and a book signing and reception to follow. For more details on the event, please contact Carolyn O'Connor at (609) 240 -1928.