Native American Symposium


The Native American Symposium Committee began its work in the spring of 1995 with a Film and Lecture Series. Since then we have instituted a Native American conference in the fall of every other year..

First Native American Symposium

The first Native American Symposium took place in November 1996 and was titled “Speaking Aloud/Allowed: Native American Voices in the Past, Present, and Future.” The Symposium included paper and presentation sessions with scholars from institutions as far away as Washington, D.C. and Utah, a round-table discussion with tribal historians from the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations, and keynote speaker Alfonso Ortiz, a nationally known Native American activist, scholar, teacher and author of a number of influential books on Native American history and anthropology such as The Tewa World and North American Indian Anthropology. Activities also included art exhibitions including the Chickasha Aisha (Remaining Chicksaw) photographs, paintings by Jimmy Yellowhair and works by Jerome Tiger, Woody Crumbo, Blue Eagle and others as part of the Charles Hogan Collection. Featured presenters also included Native American author Vincent Mendoza and flutist D.J. Battist-Tomasi. The conference highlights were a keynote banquet and a conference finale dance presentation and book signing.

Second Native American Symposium

The second Native American Symposium, titled “The Beating/Beading of Many Hearts: Reclaiming Native American Cultures,” was held in November 1997. The community gathered to discuss the native American experience in literature, film, history, sociology, and anthropology. The keynote address was delivered by Mr. Richard Erdoes, who has written and edited many books on Native American topics. As a writer, editor, artist and scholar, Richard Erdoes is most well known for his writings on frontier and pioneer life and his collections of Native American myths such as The Sound of Flutes and other Indian Legends (1976) and American Indian Myths and Legends (1984) which he co-edited with Alfonso Ortiz. The round-table discussion focused on the repatriation of Native American remains and artifacts, a topic that concerns experts in the fields of archeology, cultural anthropology, and jurisprudence but has wide ranging effects also on other humanities disciplines. Discussion participants included official nation representatives of the Seminole, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Cherokee Nations. Featured artists were Shan Goshorn, a Wolf-Clan Cherokee artist whose “Reclaiming Cultural Heritage and Honest Injun” is an exhibition of black and white hand-tinted photographs, and Anthony Mitchell, a Creek/Seminole artist whose paintings weave together traditional Native American legends and myths. The symposium concluded with a poetry reading and book signing by James Thomas Stevens, a member of the Akwesasne Mohawk tribe, who read from his first book Tokinish.

Third Native American Symposium

In 1999, the third Native American Symposium was the largest ever,and ad a theme of “Stealing/Steeling the Spirit: American Indian Identities. It had a successful flute concert by James Pellerite, storytelling presentation by Cochise Anderson, art and photography exhibits, and a banquet with keynote speaker Dr. Philip Deloria, who has written and presented extensive information on various Native American topics. Other guest speakers included Justice Yvonne Kauger, Chief Greg Pyle, Governor Bill Anoatubby, and Mr. Todd Robertson (representing Chief Jerry Haney).

In addition many scholarly papers were given by nationally represented presenters. One of the most important events of the last symposium was the formation and dedication of the university library’s new Native American Collection.

Fourth Native American Symposium

In 2001, the fourth Native American Symposium was held with a theme of “Smoke Screens/Smoke Signals: looking Through Two Worlds”. The keynote speaker was Oklahoman Joy Harjo, publisher of six books of poetry, and the children’s book The Good Luck Cat. She also co-edited an anthology of native women’s writing called Reinventing the Enemy’s Language: Contemporary Native Women’s Writing of North America. Featured speakers were Cochise Anderson, Carole Ayers, Linda Bryant, Amanda Cobb, Carmem Foghorn, Peggy Larney, Adrian Louis, Grayson Noley, Kathy Nunnally, Betsy Mennell Putman, and Rhonda Harris Taylor.

Fifth Native American Symposium

The Fifth Native American Symposium in 2003 attracted the greatest number of papers (over 50) and panels so far. N. Scott Momaday delivered a highly memorable keynote address to a large audience of both conference participants and local community members.  Other featured speakers included the political activist William Means and the actress and filmmaker Kim Norris Guerrero.  The Choctaw-Chickasaw painter, Norma Howard, delivered a brief talk on her work and Donald and Cathy Cole of Denison discussed and presented the authentic Native American tools and artifacts they create.  A film festival rounded out the symposium activities with a showing of Naturally Native (starring Kim Guerrero), Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, and American Indian Graffiti.  Selected works from the Charles and Miriam Hogan Native American Art Collection were also on display throughout the symposium in the gallery of the Visual and Performing Arts Center.