The American Indians Reaching Opportunities group at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point is celebrating Native American Awareness Week this week through Saturday, May 5. Andy Gokee, director of the Native American Center on campus, explained that Native American Awareness Week is an important step to understanding the culture of Native American students and community members.
“We hope to educate the public about Native people. To show them that we are not only part of the past, but still a vibrant culture today,” Gokee said.
AIRO’s Native American Awareness Week is filled with events for both fun and education. At noon on Thursday, May 3, Richie Plass will be giving a brown-bag lecture entitled “Benched: The Repression of Menominee Language in the 21st Century.” Plass is a representative of Miranda Washinawatok, a 12-year-old Green Bay student who was punished for using her native language at school. Native Americans have a long history of language repression by the educational system and Plass’ lecture will dive deeper into that topic.
A film will also be shown Friday at noon entitled “Lighting the 7th Fire.” The film examines Chippewa treaty controversy and anti-Native American protests in Northern Wisconsin. Both events are being held at the Dreyfus University Center in room 374.
Saturday’s big event is the 39th Annual AIRO Pow Wow in the Health Enhancement Center Berg Gymnasium. All are welcome to this public event that has been going strong since 1973.
“It’s very popular in the community,” Gokee said, “and is always well-attended.” Grand Entries are at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., and your $3 student ticket also includes a feast at 5 p.m. You may contact the UWSP Native American Center (Student Services Rm. 220) with any questions.