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November 8, 2013
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU marks Native American Day Nov. 19

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University has again joined with the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center, based in Pittsburgh, to present Native American Celebration Day at SRU. The event will include storytelling, traditions, customs, dance, culture and a discussion of the impact of using Native American words as sports team names and mascots.

The daylong celebration runs 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Nov. 19, in the Smith Student Center Ballroom. Those attending will see regalia created by members of the Three Rivers Council and frequently worn at pow-wows and have opportunities to talk with those associated with regional nations.

The discussion will focus on "Mascots - What's the Big Deal?"

Rachela Permenter, SRU professor of English, Frederick White, associate professor of English, and Pamela Soeder, professor of elementary education and early childhood development, will lead the discussion. All three are Native Americans involved with planning the day's event.

The naming issue involving sports teams has drawn national interest with Washington, D.C.'s, city council requesting the Washington Redskins football team to change its name. The council was scheduled to vote this week on renewed calls for the name change before the 2014 season.

D.C. council's latest action, formally known as the "Sense of the Council to Rename the Washington National Football League Team Resolution of 2013," points out "the name is considered by 'many Americans ... to be racist and derogatory, and ... increasingly considered to be insensitive in our multi-cultural society.'" President Obama has also weighed in, saying if he were the team's owner he would change the name.

The discussion is at 12:30 p.m.

Native American artifacts will be displayed throughout the day.

The celebration opens with Native American storytelling at 9:30 a.m., and a number of local elementary and middle school students are expected to attend and stay for the 10:30 a.m., session on Native American dances. A number of dream catchers, often made of feathers, will be used in the dances.

Drummers from the Council of Three Rivers and Native Americans in their tribal regalia will lead the event. The dance program, which will also include traditional Native American chants, will demonstrate choreography for men only, women only, and both sexes. The program will be repeated at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Melissa Teodoro and Nola Nolen-Holland, both assistant professors of dance, and Mike Simms, an active member of the Three Rivers Center, will discuss "Why We Dance" at 2 p.m.

Other members of the Simms family, Native Americans from the Pittsburgh area, will join in the day's celebration.

White, Ethan Hull, assistant professor of physical education, and others will present a discussion on the Indigenous Impact on American Sports and Arts, including football, lacrosse, dream catchers and cornhusk dolls, at 11 a.m., as part of a round-table discussion.

White, Soeder and Permenter will lead a "Town Hall Discussion" under the theme "Representation: Is it Real?" at 12:30 p.m.

The Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center was created in 1969 to help regional residents with a need to maintain their sense of "Indian-ness" recapture their roots and become more conscious of their rights as Native Americans. The council operates from offices in Dorseyville, Indiana Township.

The council holds monthly cultural days at which members work on their regalia, which often contain beads, hollowed out animal bones, animal skins and subdued colors.

The day ends at 3 p.m. with a closing of songs and dances.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.