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 Tuesday, November 9, 2004, IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Oyate Aims to Enlighten Audiences during American Indian Heritage Month
By Vicki Czech, Publications and Creative Services

Oyate, a CU-Boulder American Indian student organization, has planned a series of events this month that they hope will educate others about the diversity of tribal cultures in America.

One of the featured speakers last week was former CU professor Philip Deloria, who discussed identity and stereotype issues American Indians face. "I struggle with that on a daily basis," said CU graduate student Heidi McCann, a member of the Yavapai-Apache Nation in Arizona. "People have certain expectations of me when they learn I am an American Indian."

McCann hopes the events will deliver the message that American Indians "are a conquered people but have managed to survive with their language and their culture intact. But they have also managed to do other things, like sports, politics, the performing arts... they have managed to walk two worlds."

The Oyate Indigenous Student Organization currently has about 40 active members, representing dozens of different Indian tribes around the country. "It's so exciting to see these students have a voice," said Alfreda Mitre, director of CU's Upward Bound Program and a member of the American Indian Advocacy Committee. "Native Americans make up less than one percent of the CU student body. Oyate is a big factor in most of these students staying. It gives them a sense of community."

The federally funded Upward Bound program, now in its 24th year at CU, provides high school students from targeted communities-primarily American Indian reservations- with the opportunity to experience college and urban life.

Mitre will be leaving her position with Upward Bound later this month to devote more time to her duties as chairwoman of her native Pauite Tribe in Las Vegas. She chairs a six-member elected tribal council that makes policy decisions and oversees the tribe's businesses, which include three premium golf courses.

The remaining events this month are "Where the Spirit Lives," a movie and discussion about First Nations children in Canada who were sent to a residential school far from home, November 10 in Hale Science Building Room 270 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and "American Indian Intellectuals in the 20th Century," a talk by Dr. Donald L. Fixico about his experiences as an American Indian youth in Oklahoma, November 11 in the Bruce Curtis Building (formerly Museum Collections/Geology building) Room W100 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information call Oyate at 303-492-8874 or Heidi McCann at 303-499-0398.

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