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 SRU marks history with Native American Celebration Day Nov. 6 




October 24, 2008

Contact: K.E. Schwab  




SRU marks history with Native American Celebration Day Nov. 6.       


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University will mark its third Native American Celebration Day Nov. 6 with a series of events, including participants from the Pittsburgh-based Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center, traditional American Indian dancers, singers and a storyteller.

           The events will take place between the 9:30 a.m. opening ceremony and the 8 p.m. showing of the film "Where the Spirit Lives." The film will be shown in Strain Behavioral Science Hall. The film deals with a young Native Canadian and her fight to retain her culture and identity after being abducted and forced into a residential school. A discussion follows the film. All other events are in the University Union.    

           "One of the most difficult problems associated with Native American identity is their portrayal, both current and historically. History is full of accounts and narratives about Native Americans, but rarely do we read or hear from Native Americans themselves. This day is an opportunity for Native Americans to present dances, ceremonies, stories and research that affirms and validates the identity they have been endowed with by their Creator. With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner, the day's activities are particularly timely," said Frederick White, associate professor of English at SRU and chair of the President's Commission for Racial and Ethnic Diversity's Native American subcommittee.

           Following the formal opening, Miguel Sague will tell Native American stories at 10 a.m. Sague, a medicine man, cultural arts instructor and musician, will tell stories that are traditional to his Taino and other tribes. A hands-on program for children in kindergarten through seventh grade follows at 10:30 a.m.  The program will involve American Indian artifacts.  

           Presentations of traditional Native American dances and songs will be offered by members of the Pittsburgh council at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Members of the audience will be invited to join in.

            A dramatic reading of the play "Higher Ed," written by White, a member of the Canadian Haida tribe, will be presented at 12:30 p.m. The day's keynote address will be delivered at 1:30 p.m. by Sague of Verona. His address is titled "Youth and Identity of Urban Indians." 

           Sague is a member of the Taino tribe, the Caribbean Indians who greeted Christopher Columbus in 1492. He often tells of Columbus' arrival, pointing out, "He was lost, and we found him." Sague is a native of Santo Domingo, Cuba, and a member of the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center since 1977.  

           A 2 p.m. panel discussion will explore the topic of Native American identity. Those attending will be invited to contribute their first thoughts about Native Americans. Panelists will offer insights regarding typical myths, stereotypes and misconceptions regarding Native American culture.                   

           The panel will include White; Rachela Permenter, professor of English at SRU; Sonya Begay, Workforce Investment Act service coordinator for the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center; and Russell Simms, executive director of the council and a member of the Cherokee Nation.

           Vendors offering Native American jewelry, crafts and other items will also be on hand.  The SGA Bookstore will offer Native American-themed books.

           The day is sponsored by a Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Social Equity Grant; the SRU President's Commission Racial and Ethnic Diversity; William Williams, provost and vice president for academic affairs; Charles Curry, vice president for finance and administrative affairs; the University Program Board; the Frederick Douglass Institute; the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity; and the Office of Intercultural Programs. 


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.



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