Students, faculty and staff gathered in the University Center on Tuesday, Nov. 29 for a Ceremony of Hope to honor the spirit of ‘Ohana, celebrate Native American Heritage Month and support the co-existence of indigenous populations.
A dance by the Nā Haumāna O Hawai‘i, tribal music by the Four Directions Drum Group, friendship dances and an address by Pacific Distinguished Professor Emeritus Mike Steele brought diversity, a core value of the university, into focus.
The ceremony also represented the successful conclusion to an eye-opening Tribal Leaders Lecture Series that transpired during the semester.
The five-part series, featuring representatives of the Nisqually, Grand Ronde and Umatilla tribes, addressed the concerns of the American Indian community. Topics included tribal law, treaty rights, tribal renaissance and gambling, tribal jurisdiction and environmental issues and American Indian sovereignty.
The popular series, a collaboration of Pacific's Office of Diversity, Center for Gender Equity and Tom McCall Center for Policy Innovation, was an abbreviated form of the Great Tribal Leaders of Modern Times curriculum developed by Portland State University's Institute for Tribal Government.
Each session drew between 30 to 40 participants, according to Pacific diversity director and assistant professor Alfonso Lopez-Vasquez.
"This is a new beginning for Pacific in our relationship with the Native American communities in Oregon," Lopez-Vasquez said. "The lecture series has served as an opportunity to bring into focus our small but vibrant Native American student population."
Charlotte Basch '14 is one such student. A member of the Clatsop Indians tribe, Basch has shared her tribe's history since she was a student in high school.
Her participation in the series here at Pacific included an impromptu speaking role during the Oct. 26 lecture on tribal jurisdiction.