CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University will host a conference looking at the relationship between humans and the environment from a strictly Native American point of view.
Several hundred Oregon tribal members, as well as other Oregonians are expected to attend the May 14 conference, called "Sacred Landscapes: Native American Perspectives of the Pacific Northwest." The all-day conference, held at OSU's LaSells Stewart Center, is free and open to the public.
"The conference will provide a forum for Native American tribal elders, leaders, and resource managers to express their viewpoints about the environment and its importance in native community life and spirituality," said Kurt Peters, an assistant professor in OSU's Department of Ethnic Studies and a co-coordinator of the event.
"All of the presentations will be by Native Americans living in the Pacific Northwest," he added.
Peters said the Native American voice has been "comparatively small" in the debate over our changing environment, and is often lost among the variety of perspectives.
"This conference will give Native Americans an opportunity to share their unique perspectives through informed reflection, storytelling, recounting community experiences, music and documentary film," Peters said.
The conference will begin at 8:30 a.m. with opening songs by the drum group, Northern Eagle. Phil Lane Sr., Lakota, thought to be one of the first Native American graduates of OSU, will delivery the honorary keynote address at 9 a.m., "Human Relationship with Mother Earth." He graduated from OSU in 1943 with a bachelor's degree in forestry.
Mark Trahant, a Shoshone-Bannock and columnist for the Seattle Times, will give the keynote speech, "Sacred Places, Sacred Worlds." His talk will begin at 9:30 a.m. Trahant, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, writes a twice-weekly column for the Seattle Times about the geography, culture and richness of the American West.
A special evening presentation, beginning at 7 p.m., will feature filmmaker Sandy Osawa of the Makah tribe. Osawa has been making documentaries on Indian issues for more than 20 years, and her work has been featured at the Sundance Film Festival and the American Indian Film and Video Festival. Among her works is "The Native American," a 10-part NBC documentary, and "Usual and Accustomed Places," an investigation of fishing rights in the Pacific Northwest covering the last 100 years.
Other speakers at the conference, and their approximate presentation times, include:
Audience members are invited to participate in a question-and-answer session beginning at 4 p.m. At 4:30 p.m., the conference will honor participants in an art contest for students in grades K-12 held in conjunction with the event. The conference logo was designed by Teresa Larson, a fourth-grader at Simnasho School, Warm Springs, and artwork on conference postcards was designed by Larry Spino, a 6-year-old (Warm Springs-Wasco-Paiute) at Warm Springs Elementary.
More information on the free conference is available by calling the OSU Department of Ethnic Studies at 541-737-0709, or accessing the conference web site.
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Kurt Peters, 541-737-5668