Medicine Ways Conference Explores Roles of Native American Women

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33rd annual event convenes May 10 at UCR, annual Pow Wow begins May 23

By on May 2, 2014

drawing

Native Woman and SonEarl Sisto, San Carlos Apache

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The roles of Native American women in their communities and how they continue to change will be examined in the 33rd Annual Medicine Ways Conference at the University of California, Riverside on Saturday, May 10.

The event begins at 9:30 a.m. and concludes at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are requested. RSVP to Joshua Gonzales, director of Native American Student Programs, at joshuag@ucr.edu. Parking is free in Lot 1 to those who arrive before 11:30 a.m. After that, permits may be purchased at the kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance to the campus.

The Medicine Ways Conference is the first of two major events presented this month by Native American students at UCR. The second, the annual UCR Pow Wow, begins Friday, May 23, and continues through Saturday, May 24, at the UCR Sports Complex, 1000 W. Blaine St. The event is an inter-tribal social gathering celebrating Native American culture and traditions through singing, drumming, and dancing. Traditional Native American dancers, drum groups, bird singers, and other artists will be present, and vendors will sell food, handmade Native American jewelry, arts and crafts, and other merchandise. Admission is free. Parking is free in Lot 26.

Over the years the Medicine Ways Conference has addressed medicine, music, song, politics, literature, history, and health issues. It is organized by Native American students, who continue the tradition of presenting speakers to discuss issues important to the health, survival, and well-being of American Indian people in contemporary society.

“We look forward every year to everyone coming together at these events,” Gonzales said. “Over the years Medicine Ways has continued to grow with students, staff, faulty and community members participating. Last year we had more than 300 people attend. It’s a beautiful conference, to see people make new friends and enjoy themselves, to share knowledge, and to regain balance in our lives.”

This year’s theme, “Transformation of Native Women: Continuing Tradition in the Modern World,” will explore topics ranging from the roles of women in pre- and early-contact communities to how they are maintaining and redefining tradition and community in modern society, Gonzales said.

“We at the Native American Student Association want to emphasize that this conference promotes conversations addressing women’s roles by encouraging everyone to participate,” the conference organizers said in a written statement. “We believe that by sharing our gendered experiences relating gender with each other we are able to strengthen the ties within, and for, our communities.”

Conference sponsors are: Barona Band of Mission Indians, Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians, and from UCR, Native American Student Programs, Native American Student Association, Graduate Student Association, Rupert Costo Endowed Chair, California Center for Native Nations, and Native American Education Program.

Conference schedule

9:30 a.m. – Continental breakfast

10:20 a.m. – Blessing and invocation

11 a.m. – “A Historical Account of Women’s Roles in Pre-colonial America,” Rebecca Kugel (Ojibwe and Shawnee), UCR associate professor of history

Noon – Breakout session

  • “Traditional Land Management: A Reclamation of Community Knowledge,” Carrie Garcia (Luiseño) and Beyaja Notah (Navajo)
  • “Indigenous Dance: Rediscovering the Tradition Within,” Jack Gray (Maori)
  • “Spiritual Healing,” Kenneth Coosewoon (Comanche)
  • “Wellness through Decolonization,” Renda Dionne Madrigal (Turtle Mountain Chippewa)

1 p.m.  – Lunch

2 p.m. – “Passing Down Knowledge through Oral Stories,” Georgiana Sanchez (Barbareño Chumash)

3 p.m. – Breakout Session

  • “Traditional Land Management: A Reclamation of Community Knowledge,” Carrie Garcia (Luiseño) and Beyaja Notah (Navajo)
  • “Indigenous Dance: Rediscovering the Tradition Within,” Jack Gray (Maori)
  • “Spiritual Healing,” Kenneth Coosewoon (Comanche)
  • “Native Plants,” Barbara Drake (Tongva)

4 p.m. – Mother Earth Clan Panel featuring Lorene Sisquoc (Cahuilla/Apache), Tonita Largo-Glover (Cahuilla/Apache), Cindi Alvitre (Tongva), and Barbara Drake (Tongva)

5 p.m. – Dinner

6 p.m. – Bird singing and closing take-out section

Coosewoon and Ronald Ray Cooper (Comanche) will conduct Native Healing Circles in the morning and the afternoon.

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