Posts Tagged ‘University of Montana’


Art exhibit at powwow erases, rewrites Hellgate Treaty

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Powwow, Salish, Treaties

By Kim Briggeman, of the Missoulian:

The way Geraldine Pete sees it, a treaty that’s been broken might as well be erased.

Geraldine Pete shows the roll of paper on which she wrote out part of the Hellgate Treaty of 1855. Pete then invited the public to erase it at last weekend’s Kyi-Yo Indian Celebration at the University of Montana. Pete’s “Big Mistake Art Event” was meant to produce dialogue about a broken treaty that drove the Salish from their lands. (Photo by TOM BAUER/Missoulian)

That was what the University of Montana art student had in mind when she lugged rolls of art paper 30 feet long and 3 1/2 feet wide to the Kyi-Yo Indian Celebration in the Adams Center last weekend.

On them she wrote the first few articles of the Hellgate Treaty of 1855, the one that ostensibly created the Flathead Reservation, and invited powwow attendees to have their way with it.

Pete even provided erasers, a pink one labeled “For Big Mistakes” and a blue one that said “OOPS.”

Her abstract of the “Big Mistake Art Event” said it was meant to provide “comic relief for a devastating historic occurrence” – even as she realized there are those who wouldn’t view a treaty more than 150 years old as such, and even more who have no idea what the Hellgate Treaty was.

“It’s my first art installation, and it has to do with social practice artwork,” explained Pete, who enrolled in the art program at UM after receiving a graduate degree in counselor education. “It involves everything here – the energy, the dancing and just participating in the celebration. And I think erasing is one way to celebrate.”

Sheryl Noethe had another way.

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As Missoulian reporter Chelsi Moy explains, Native Americans makes up the largest student minority at the University of Montana. And graduation rate of Native students lags far behind that of non-minorities.

That’s just one area of concern.

A new study released by university council at UM lays out all the work the institution has to do when it comes to diversity.

Native students on campus say more should be done to provide diversity classes for students. Also they say, the university should follow up with drop outs so it can better understand the problems.

Here’s Moy’s story:

    Walking across campus, the University of Montana may not appear all that diverse.

    However, a new report compiled by the President’s Diversity Advisory Council tells a different story. The report is a compilation of all the diversity efforts by individual schools and departments on campus. It’s a baseline study that the university plans to use to gauge its progress.

    “I was impressed on how many different units are doing really incredible work on all aspects of diversity,” said Lucy France, director of UM’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office.

    Some statistics, however, show there’s much that still needs to be done. Thirty-four percent of UM’s tenured faculty are female, 1 percent are American Indian and 7 percent are black, Hispanic or Asian. The university recently hired a diversity retention and recruitment coordinator to address the under-representation of females and minority faculty and staff, France said.
    White students make up 86 percent of the undergraduate population.

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An important meeting took place last week on the campus at the University of Montana. Missoulian reporter Chelsi Moy has the story:

For years, the University of Montana has worked to recruit higher numbers of American Indian students, but Montana’s tribal college presidents suggested a different approach during a visit to campus Friday.

Recruit Native American professors, staff and researchers first.

“If you can see people who look like you in the classroom and have had the same experiences, the classroom is more acceptable,” said Richard Littlebear, president of Chief Dull Knife College located on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in southeastern Montana.

Nearly all of the tribal college presidents from Montana’s seven Indian reservations attended the daylong meeting.

UM President Royce Engstrom invited his fellow presidents to Missoula so he could develop relationships with other higher education leaders in the state, learn more about tribal colleges and look for areas where UM and tribal colleges can collaborate, he said.

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Tuesday, April 12: The panel “Comparative Law in Indian Country” will look at the different and unique laws that exist within individual American Indian tribes in Montana. Panelists featured will be Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal attorney John Harrison, UM law Professor Elizabeth Kronk and Crow joint lead executive counsel Heather Whiteman Runs Him. The panelists will discuss what every Montanan should know when dealing with and doing business with individual tribes or when entering tribal land.

By Gwen Florio, of the Missoulian:

Some of the most important legal issues in Indian Country are the focus of a conference at the University of Montana School of Law this week.

Panel discussions during Indian Law Week will scrutinize matters beyond the $3 billion settlement in the Cobell v. Salazar Indian trust case that has been in the spotlight much of the last few years.

The week’s events, hosted by the Native American Law Student Association, begin with an examination of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Montana v. U.S. decision in 1981, a ruling that has proved problematic for tribes for three decades now.

The last paragraph of the decision severely limited tribes’ ability to regulate non-Indians on “fee” land – that is, land that lies within reservations but isn’t owned by a tribe.

That single paragraph has been cited on issues from personal injury to taxation, zoning and water rights, said UM law professor Raymond Cross.

“This has become the Swiss Army knife of non-Indian defense … ,” he said. “The practical fallout is quite substantial.”

Cross will join Crow tribal attorney Urban Bear Don’t Walk Sr. and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Appellate Judge Cher Stewart on a panel discussing the topic at noon Monday.

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Jim Watts, center, of Browning helps his sons James, left, and Austin with their regalia as they get ready to dance on Saturday at the Kyi-Yo Pow Wow in Missoula. Watts said he’s danced since he was a boy, and now he sees his kids starting to understand how dancing connects them to their people. (Photo by TOM BAUER/Missoulian)

The 43rd annual Kyi-Yo powwow at the University of Montana will be held April 15 and 16 in the Adams Center. It’s a staple of spring events in Missoula.

As the Kaimin reports, it’s recovering this year from a funding debacle that left drummers and dancers without prize money while the university floundered to cover its part of the pot.

Here’s Heidi Grovers, of the Kaimin’s story:

When Dustin Monroe approaches Missoula business owners and asks them to donate to this year’s Kyi-Yo Powwow, he knows it won’t be an easy sell.

He comes prepared with a budget and his most earnest explanation of what his club is doing to prepare for one of the largest events on The University of Montana campus.

The Kyi-Yo Powwow is an irreplaceable event, but one with a tainted reputation after fundraising and organizing efforts fell short last year, Monroe said.

“A lot of people in the community blamed all UM native students, not just the Kyi-Yo organizers,” said Monroe, who is a graduate of the UM School of Business and vice president of this year’s Kyi-Yo Native American Student Association, which organizes the powwow. “A lot of students who were not involved before are taking on the personal challenge this year to make sure it succeeds.”

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T.J. Wolfname, Whitney Snow and Jazra Michel (left to right) enjoy a bowl of soup together Friday afternoon during the bi-weekly Soup Friday put on by the American Indian Student Services at the University of Montana. Soup Friday was started two years ago by AISS to build relationships on campus between Native and non-Native students, faculty and staff. (Photo by KURT WILSON/Missoulian)

By Chelsi Moy, of the Missoulian.

On a day when the mercury outside was well below freezing, beef stew and chicken soup seemed to hit the spot.

Yet it’s not the weather that brings folks to Soup Fridays.

It’s the camaraderie.

Every other week, American Indian Student Services organizes Soup Friday, which is where University of Montana students, faculty and staff, Native and non-Native alike, congregate in the student lounge of the Payne Family Native American Center to enjoy a hearty bowl of stew, chili or soup.

It’s a tradition that began two years ago when Fredricka Hunter took over as director of American Indian Student Services and saw the informal lunch as a way to build community on campus, bridge cultures and, now, to utilize the new Native American Center building.

It’s an opportunity for Native and non-Native students to build relationships, and way to invite non-Native students into the new building.

Before noon, Hunter goes around to each student hunched over books in the Native American Center and invites them in for a bowl of soup.

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Indian leaders from the Crow Reservation watch during part of a May ceremony to celebrate the new Payne Family Native American Center on the campus of the University of Montana. Photo by KURT WILSON/Missoulian

Indian leaders from the Crow Reservation watch during part of a May ceremony to celebrate the new Payne Family Native American Center on the campus of the University of Montana. Photo by KURT WILSON/Missoulian

Dedicated barely six months ago, University of Montana’s new Payne Family Native American Center is set to receive a premier environmental award on Friday. A a 12:30 p.m. public ceremony in the University Center Ballroom is planned.

The Pacific Northwest International Section of the Air & Waste Management Association is presenting the center with its Environmental Achievement award, according to a UM press release.

    The building, which houses the University’s Department of Native American Studies, American Indian Student Services and related campus programming, is expected to receive LEED Gold certification.

    As part of its Climate Action Plan, UM has made a commitment that all new buildings on campus meet the certification requirements of the U.S. Green Building Council to be at least up to the LEED Silver rating. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

    “The University of Montana is pleased to receive this prestigious Environmental Achievement award that highlights the LEED certification features of The Payne Family Native American Center,” said UM President Royce Engstrom. “The center is a wonderful example of the University’s commitment to sustainability, as well as its commitments to Native American education.”

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UM student Keith Rock comments on the racial implications of the “Twilight” series and the movie New Moon. Rock, a member of the Blackfeet tribe, says that people often project stereotypes on him, and movies like this don’t help. (Copyright Steel Brooks 2010)

UM student Keith Rock comments on the racial implications of the “Twilight” series and the movie New Moon. Rock, a member of the Blackfeet tribe, says that people often project stereotypes on him, and movies like this don’t help. (Copyright Steel Brooks 2010)

A panel at the University of Montana this week analyzed the portrayal of Native Americans in the uber-popular “Twilight” vampire movie series, focusing on the shirtless teenager Jacob Black, a Native American who can turn into a werewolf.

The panel members for the University Student Involvement program hosted “Keeping Jacob on the Reservation: Is Twilight Racist?” event recognized that the movie can’t be taken too seriously, but saw several themes as concerning, the Montana Kaiman reported.

Black, and a the rest of the pack of werewolves (all Native) are a central part to the series of movies. Black, human Bella Swan and vampire Edward Cullen are tangled in a love web complicated by the dangers of evil vampires that hunt the Cullen family and Swan. Vampires and the Native werewolves are sworn enemies.

The most concerning issue: domestic violence themes in scenes with the werewolf pack.

    (University of Montana Assistant Journalism Professor and Director of Native American Journalism Projects Jason) Begay said he saw an obvious domestic violence analogy in one scene, where a Native American woman has a scarred face because her werewolf husband, as the movie explains, ‘got angry once’ and injured her. “Even without the [werewolf] metaphor, that scene is a striking commentary on domestic violence,” Begay said.

    UM student and Blackfeet tribal member Keith Rock said Twilight plays into racist stereotypes. “As a Native American male, I am just assumed to have hurt a woman,” he said. “I saw that in the film, and it was just a slap in the face.”

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Luanna Ross, newly installed president of Salish Kootenai College, listens to an honor song Wednesday at her inauguration ceremony. Behind her is Joe McDonald, president emeritus, who helped to found the school and served as president for more than three decades. Photo by KURT WILSON/Missoulian

Luanna Ross, newly installed president of Salish Kootenai College, listens to an honor song Wednesday at her inauguration ceremony. Behind her is Joe McDonald, president emeritus, who helped to found the school and served as president for more than three decades. Photo by KURT WILSON/Missoulian

For years — three decades, actually — Joe McDonald defined Salish Kootenai College on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana.

He helped found the school, served as its second president, and shepherded it from a handful of students in Quonset huts to more than a thousand today on a 140-acre campus. But change is inevitable, and so it seemed fitting that yesterday’s ceremony welcoming Luanna Ross as SKC’s new leader put a strong emphasiss on change.

“Institutions need to be fluid and dynamic,” Ross said at the ceremony, covered by Vince Devlin of the Missoulian. “I find change invigorating, thrilling and exciting. It means you’re being provided an important experience.”

Ross, an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, has a wealth of experience:

    Ross, a graduate of Ronan High School, comes to SKC from the University of Washington, where she was a professor and co-director of Native Voices, a graduate film program.

    She earned her bachelor’s degree from UM, her master’s from Portland State University and her doctorate, in sociology, from the University of Oregon.

    Ross also previously taught at the University of California-Berkeley and UC-Davis, and is the author of the book “Inventing the Savage: The Social Construction of Native American Criminality.”

One thing that won’t change – SKC is frequently characterized as the most successful tribal college, and Ross vows to uphold that.

“I am committed to making sure Salish Kootenai College remains the flagship of tribal colleges,” she says. “This is exactly where I should be: home, and your next president.”

Gwen Florio

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Navajo Times reporter Jason Begay, whose excellent work has often been featured on Buffalo Post, is returning to the University of Montana as the most recent addition to the School of Journalism faculty.

As Missoulian editor Sherry Devlin writes here in her Missoula Editor blog:

    I got to know Jason a number of years ago, while teaching Public Affairs Reporting at the journalism school. He was a student in my class and an inspiration to everyone in the class – myself included. He is truly one of the most gifted journalists I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with.

Begay, who will be an assistant professor at UM and also direct the RezNet online news feed, has worked at the New York Times, The Oregonian, Duluth News Tribune, the Wichita Eagle and The Oakland Tribune.


Gwen Florio

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