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 SRU to Host 2-Day 'Native American Celebration' April 18-19 




Contact: K.E. Schwab  -- 724-738-2199;  e-mail:


     SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. –  “Native American Celebration Day” will be marked at Slippery Rock University with a two-day celebration April 18-19, featuring the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center and the premiere of the play “Higher Education” written by the university’s Dr. Frederick White, assistant professor of English.

     The play, including a cast of SRU students, faculty and staff, will conclude the celebration at 7 p.m. in Swope Music Hall. The work probes a cultural clash of two Native-American students attending college trying to fulfill their general education requirements. “American History to 1860,” “Introduction to Early-American Literature” and an “Introduction to Music” are the settings for the encounter. “All too often, Native Americans have endured misidentification beginning with Columbus. Establishing Native American identity has rarely occurred from within the Native American's community, rather, Euro-American stereotypes and misinformation have contributed to global and inaccurate depictions of Native American culture and communities. Even more troubling is how many of these stereotypes find recognition in our schools, colleges and universities. This play explores some of those depictions expressed in American history and American literature classes,” White explains.

       In the play, Joseph Red-Morning-Clouds and Angela Jaslanas are the two main characters. Red-Morning-Clouds encounters some difficulty in affirming Native American contributions to literature in his early-American literature class. Similarly, Jaslanas meets staunch defensiveness about rethinking Columbus' explorations as “visits” rather than the commonly accepted “discoveries.” They endure having their cultures and histories minimalized or trivialized, but their experience in the “Intro to Music” affords a rare opportunity for validating their music, language and culture.

     The Pittsburgh-based Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center will offer traditional dancers and singers, visual artists, storytellers and vendors offering Indian arts throughout the day in the University Union.

     The celebration opens at 7 p.m. April 18 with the screening of the film “Smoke Signals,” followed by a Native Americans on Film discussion led by Dr. Rachela Permenter, professor of English and Hock E Aye Vi (Edgar Heap of Birds) in McKay Education Building Auditorium.

     April 19 events open with a 10:45 a.m. visit by storyteller Larry Watson, a member of the Pittsburgh council, in the University Union who will also offer the event’s keynote address titled “Eastern Tribal Contributions” at 11:30 a.m. in the union. Watson will also offer a traditional story at 4:15 p.m. in the union.

     A panel will examine “Native American Contributions to Small Business Entrepreneurs, Art, History and the English Language” at a noon session set for the Union and traditional dancers and singers from the local council will perform at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. in the union. Panelists will include Dr. David Dailey, associate professor of computer science, discussing Native American contributions to language; Dr. Theresa Wajda, assistant professor in the School of Business, contributions to small business entrepreneurs, Dr. David Dixon, professor of history, contributions to history, and Edgar Heap of Birds on contributions to art.

     A 2:30 p.m. lecture on Native American art will be offered by Alfred Youngman and Edgar Heap of Birds in the union.   The event is held to promote Native American heritage and to give students and the community a chance to talk with Native Americans about their contributions to today’s life.

     The celebration is sponsored by the SRU President’s Commission for Racial and Ethnic Diversity, the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Office of the Vice President for Finance and Administrative Affairs, the University Program Board, the Association of Residence Hall Students, Frederick Douglass Institute, the Office of Intercultural Programs, the Office of Residence Life and is part of the Kaleidoscope arts festival, coordinated by SRU’s College of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts.





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