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Archive for Sunday, April 6, 2008

First empowerment summit a success

About 120 students, 30 speakers attend event at Haskell

From left, Brady LaCour, of Carnegie, Okla., Steve LaCour Sr., of Lawrence, and Timothy Tieyah, of Medicine Park, Okla., perform a gourd dance Saturday at the Indigenous Empowerment Summit at Haskell Indian Nations University.

From left, Brady LaCour, of Carnegie, Okla., Steve LaCour Sr., of Lawrence, and Timothy Tieyah, of Medicine Park, Okla., perform a gourd dance Saturday at the Indigenous Empowerment Summit at Haskell Indian Nations University.

April 6, 2008

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Indigenous Empowerment Summit

Haskell Indian Nations University played host to its first ever Indigenous Empowerment Summit, which ended Saturday.

The summit was created by students for students.

"We just reserved buildings and asked people to come," said Willow Jack, a senior at the university and coordinator of the event. She was thrilled with how the event evolved during its planning stages over the last several months. At least 120 students attended the summit, and more than 30 guest speakers from across the country attended as well.

Speakers included Ernie Stevens II, president of the national Indian Gaming Association and tribal leader of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin; Tokala Clifford, a Native actor and model; and LaNada War Jack, a executive director forShoShone-Bannock Tribes in Fort Hall, Idaho. Since Thursday, speakers have addressed issues, such as cultural awareness and preservation, the environment and political activism.

"They were empowering us with the knowledge they have," Jack said.

War Jack gave a lecture titled the "Power of Youth." As the first Native American student at the University of California-Berkeley in the late '60s and early '70s, War Jack was part of the Native American Occupation of Alcatraz in 1969. The occupation began to gain Indian control of the island and to raise awareness about the treatment of Native Americans, such as broken treaties. Such challenges are still present today, War Jack said."It's up to them to preserve their heritage : so we as a native people can have a voice," she said. "The future lies with them, and they have the power to do it."

Activities during the summit included a fashion show and play, as well as a gourd dance and powwow from the Kiowa Cultural Organization.

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