Examining Colonizing Symbols in Sports, Mass Media

Nov 6, 2012, 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
PULSE, University Center

Cornel Pewewardy, D.Ed., Professor and Director of Indigenous Nations Studies at Portland State University, uses the lens of tribal critical race theory and liberation-based scholarship in current redress of manufactured Indian mascots and other media.


Examining Colonizing Symbols in Sports Culture, Mass Media and Civic Life:

Oregon's Board of Education recently banned public schools from using Native American mascots and North Dakota held a state-wide vote this summer to allow UND to change the Fighting Sioux mascot. Though the decisions are steps in the right direction, the issue is part of a larger problem. Depictions of native cultures are also used in advertisements and corporate identities for everything from cigarettes to baking powder to travel destinations. First Nations Peoples have had little say in these portrayals of their cultures; yet, mass media still rely on the imagery and grand narrative of the "Noble Savage," burnt into the American imagination by Hollywood. Cornel Pewewardy, D.Ed., will lead an exploration of these cultural artifacts, including the deep harm they cause, both to First Nations Peoples, and to the dominant culture. Be prepared to have your perspective about multiculturalism challenged and broadened!

Professor Pewewardy directs the Indigenous Nations Studies program at Portland State University. He is Comanche and Kiowa. In addition to Professor Pewewardy's professional scholarship and advocacy about the misuse of Native Americans as mascots, his research areas include access and retention of American Indian students in higher education, Indigenous ways of knowing and teaching, critical multicultural education, Indigenous urban and reservation-based teacher education, tribal identity (de)construction, Indigenous decolonization and resurgence, and ethnomusicology-- digitizing unrecorded tribal songs of the Southern Plains. Much of this work intersects with the concept of "rhetorical sovereignty," a phrase deep with meaning, including, "the inherit right...of peoples to determine their own communicative needs and desires."1

Professor Pewewardy has received numerous awards from both students and colleagues alike for his educational efforts in and outside the classroom, including the 2012 John Elliot Allen Outstanding Teaching Award and 2011 President's Diversity award from Portland State University. He has been involved in efforts to improve local K-12 American Indian educational outcomes in Oregon and Washington. Professor Pewewardy is a former elementary principal who founded the American Indian Magnet School in St. Paul, MN, a national model public school which focused on American Indian culture and languages. He served as Dean of Academic Affairs at the Comanche Nation College and was an elementary teacher on the Navajo reservation. He's also an accomplished musician.

Sponsored by: ACE (Activities & Cultural Events) Board, ROOTS (Reshaping Our Opinions Through Sharing), Diversity Office, & Student Activities & Multicultural Interests.

1Lyons, S. R. (2000). Rhetorical sovereignty: What do American Indians want from writing? College Composition and Communication, 51(3), 447-469.


Posted by Student Activities (studentactivities@pacificu.edu) on Oct 25, 2012 at 1:54 PM

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