Native American Student Council banquet honors culture, understanding
By Jessica Warren
The Native American Student Council met Tuesday at a history banquet featuring storytellers, lessons on unforgettable people in history and traditional food. The purpose of this and other activities put on by the council is to bring Native Americans together and to teach other people about their culture.
USU history professor Dave Lewis spoke on William Wash, a Ute Indian known by the government as a "progressive Indian." According to Lewis, Wash became a property owner, a farmer and, below the surface, was becoming a white man.
Wash was also a Ute Indian, true to his culture, religion and people. He gave his land to other Indians, participated in religious ceremonies and continued his traditional lifestyle.
"Everything he did was still true to his Indian culture," said Lewis. "What matters ultimately is what you feel inside."
Orlando Tsosie, a member of the Native American Student Council, said that the council is a way to feel comfort.
"It's kind of like home away from home," he said. "The council gives strength of identity. Inner peace has to come from knowing who you are."
Tsosie said he needed more tradition in his life when he reached adulthood and that the Native American Student Council has helped him achieve that.
The council also invites people of other cultures to share, teach and learn from each other. People in the council say it is important to help their friends of different cultures to understand who they are and where they come from.
They also want to learn from other people.
"Everyone has culture," said Tsosie.
USU history professor Anne Butler studies photographs. Through these she pieces together emotions within people and families, particularly women.
In her lecture at the banquet, Butler said that most people are ordinary, but through these ordinary lives is found the pattern of history.
She wonders about the laughing, the crying, the loving that goes on between mother and child, husband and wife, within families.
"We forget the humanity in families," said Butler.
Ona Siporin, a professional storyteller, works with Butler on a presentation shown in part at the banquet, "Uncommon Common Women." The presentation is a group of stories told by Siporin about early women in western American history. The authors believe sharing stories is important.
"We need to share our diverse stories in order to understand," said Lewis. "Events like this are trying to achieve that."