Commencement ceremonies at Haskell Indian Nations University always have been patriotic affairs.
But in the wake of the war with Iraq, Friday's gathering promises to be extraordinarily red, white and blue.
"We're going to have a special presentation honoring all veterans and all mothers whose sons have gone to war," said Haskell spokeswoman Lori Tapahonso.
The presentation also will honor Army Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa, a Hopi from northern Arizona who was killed in Iraq.
Piestewa, 23, did not attend Haskell, but several students at the university knew her.
"It's going to be a neat ceremony," Tapahonso said.
Throughout U.S. history, American Indian participation in the armed forces has been the highest per capita of any ethnic group.
During World War II, for example, more than 44,000 American Indians, out of a total U.S. population of less than 350,000, served in the military.
|CommencementWhen: 10 a.m. FridayWhere: Coffin Sports ComplexCommencement PowwowWhen: 7 p.m., Friday; 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.. Saturday; 1 p.m. SundayWhere: Haskell Powwow GroundsAdmission:¢ Weekend pass, $12¢ One-day pass, $7¢ Students and senior citizens, $5¢ Children 6 and under, free|
Since World War II, eight American Indians have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor.
About 2,000 people are expected to attend this year's commencement.
"This is the largest graduating class in the history of Haskell," Tapahonso said, noting that about 175 students were expected to receive diplomas, including 55 in the university's four-year degree programs.
Featured speakers are this year's top graduates:
- Lisa Powell, 40, an Osage from Lawrence, majoring in elementary education.
- Heidi Baldwin, 25, a member of the Kaw Tribe of Oklahoma from Pahrump, Nev., majoring in business administration.
Also to be recognized:
- Pola Farve, 29, a Chupik Eskimo majoring in business administration, named Haskell's Student of the Year by the American Indian Higher Education Consortium.
- Larry Thompson, Haskell Alumnus of the Year.
- Myron Dewey, flautist.
After commencement, Haskell officials will be host of a luncheon at Curtis Hall.
The three-day commencement powwow begins at 7 p.m. Friday at the powwow rounds on the west edge of campus. Plans call for the winner of the 2003 Miss Haskell pageant being announced -- and crowned -- later that evening.
On Saturday and Sunday, gates to the powwow grounds open at 11 a.m. Grand entries begin at 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday.