Indian Country Conversations brings Native and indigenous voices to campus

by Russell Yost MBA'05,

Jarvis Kennedy and Elizabeth Woody will present as part of the series’ spring events.

Willamette’s Native American Programs will bring two speakers to campus this spring as part of the university’s Indian Country Conversation Series.

Burns Paiute Tribal Councilman Jarvis Kennedy will share his perspective on the January 2016 armed occupation of Eastern Oregon’s Malheur Wildlife Refuge from 4:30–5:30 p.m. Feb. 16 in the University Center’s Alumni Lounge.

During the occupation, Kennedy served as the Burns Paiute voice on the events that transpired. At several news conferences and public meetings, he described the occupation’s adverse impact on the Burns Paiute tribe and the local community, and asked the occupiers to leave the area.

Acclaimed author Elizabeth Woody will speak at 7 p.m. March 9 in Rogers Music Center’s Hudson Concert Hall. Woody is currently serving a two year term as Oregon’s Poet Laureate. An enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs in Oregon, of Yakama Nation descent, she is “born for” the Tódích’íinii (Bitter Water clan) of the Navajo Nation.

Woody’s first book of poetry, “Hand Into Stone,” received a 1990 American Book Award. Her second and third collections, published in 1994, are “Luminaries of the Humble,” by the University of Arizona Press, and “Seven Hands, Seven Hearts, Prose and Poetry” by The Eighth Mountain Press. Woody also writes short fiction and essays and is a visual artist. She serves on the board of directors of Soapstone: Celebrating Women Writers and as a member of Willamette’s Native American Advisory Council.

The Indian Country Conversations series originated in 2005, following a Ceremony of Renewal with regional tribes to acknowledge Willamette’s Indian mission legacy and begin a new chapter in the mutual history of Oregon’s tribal communities and the university. At the ceremony, then President M. Lee Pelton announced the establishment of a lecture series to bring guests from Indian country to the campus and the broader Willamette Valley for dialogue, teaching and learning.

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