MyAmericanFuture

MyAmericanFuture
MyAmericanFuture

Friday, October 4, 2013

October 4, 2013: NEASA Conference Follow Ups: Plenary

[This past weekend, the New England American Studies Association held its annual conference. This week, I’ll follow up some of the most inspiring aspects of the conference and some of the many great talks I heard there. If you were part of it, or if you have your own thoughts on any of these topics, please chime in!]
For reasons that I won’t get into here, I didn’t get to attend most of Saturday’s Keynote speech, delivered by the wonderful Native American Studies scholar Mark Rifkin. If anyone reading this was able to be there, please share some of what he had to say, and your own thoughts of course, in comments! I was however able to be at Friday’s Plenary Panel, and so wanted to highlight briefly each of the three impressive speakers and a bit of what he or she had to say:
1)      Linda Coombs: Wampanoag elder, historian, and educator Linda Coombs got the plenary started on a fiery and impressive note, situating the ongoing plans for the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival in Plymouth within the parallel American traditions of violence toward and silencing of Native Americans. Linda’s one of the most inspiring Americans I’ve had the chance to meet in person, and she sure didn’t disappoint here.
2)      Timothy Ives: Former NEASA Council colleague and current Rhode Island State Archaeologist Tim Ives shifted things up, highlighting some much more positive ongoing developments between the Narragansett tribe, other Rhode Island interests, and his office. As Tim’s work proves, better remembering and preserving our collective past has present and political stakes as well, and it’s nice to know we’ve got folks like Tim fighting for those goals.
3)      Steve Stonearrow: Lakota medicine man and healer Steve Stonearrow ended the plenary with an evocative reminder of the power of words, stories, songs, and belief—within one community, across all Native American communities, and for all Americans and humans. We can be educated and inspired by histories and ideas (as Linda reminds us) and by work (as Tim does)—but also, and just as powerfully, by lives and voices (as all three speakers do).
A highlight among many at this great conference! This weekend, a post on what’s next for NEASA,
Ben
PS. What do you think?

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