“We want to show that Native Americans aren’t all living in tipis and wearing feathers,” said Dr. Scott Langston, professor of religion and head of the steering committee for the event.
The idea for the symposium sprang from an introductory religion class Langston taught that focused on the relationship between Native Americans and Christianity. He brought in several Native American speakers to the class and began to wonder if the university could do something bigger.
The symposium focused on what Langston defined as “heavy” topics in its first two years– the inaugural edition presented Native American views of Columbus Day and colonization, while last year’s focus was stereotypes.
Langston believes this year’s edition will be considerably more upbeat, with the topic being contemporary native peoples and their vibrant cultures.
The symposium kicks off at 1 p.m. Monday when Tapahonso and Supaman will host a cultural dialogue exploring the power of words in the Sid W. Richardson Building.
“Tapohonso is actually my all-time favorite poet — I love her work,” Langston said. “Supaman is well-recognized in his field, and he uses modern music to express some of the contemporary issues he faces.”
The day’s next event is at 3:30 p.m. when Dr. Heather J. Shotton, Wichita scholar and associate professor of Native American studies at Oklahoma, will make a presentation titled “Through Their Own Eyes: Visual Narratives of Indigenous Women Scholars.” The presentation will take place in Moudy South room 320.
Tapohonso returns to the spotlight in the Brown-Lupton University Union Auditorium at 5 p.m. for a poetry reading and book signing, and Supaman will give a concert and dance at 7:30 p.m. in the BLUU Ballroom. Both of these events are free and open to the public.
TCU alumnus Carl Kurtz will also be hosting his family lodge, or tipi, in the Campus Commons on Monday. Students are welcome to visit Kurtz, a member of the Citizen Potowatomi Nation, throughout the day to learn about his culture.
Langston hopes that the event will serve to increase both knowledge of and respect for Native American cultures in Fort Worth.
“The symposium aims to create a dialogue between people from different native cultures and the rest of campus,” Langston said. “I want attendees to engage directly with presenters and learn from them because knowledge of native cultures is in the native communities, not in academia.”