SMU learns about the Native American Culture
Published: Friday, October 26, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Embrey Human Rights Program partnered with Cox School of Business to educate students and faculty members about Native Americans. “The Cultural Heritage: What is Tradition?” event is a part of the weeklong fall series titled, “Native Peoples: Inherent Rights & Forgotten Voices.” About 300 people attended the event Thursday night at Dallas Hall.
Jim Enote is one of the three Native American speakers from last night’s event. He shared his thoughts on what defines culture, and what it could do to a society or to a specific race.
“By saying that it’s our tradition to be something, it hindered our people’s ability to be something else, ” Enote said.
Enote believes that culture is defined in varies ways. It has the ability to unify or separate individuals. He was born in Zuni, Mexico. He recalls having many limitations growing up. Enote was told that he couldn’t do, know or ask certain things because it was not appropriate to his culture. He did not have access to much knowledge, because he was told that he couldn’t. After graduating high school and attending college, he learned that knowledge is free flowing and accessible, he said. Culture is not having restrictions and limitations, but it is something that each individual defines differently depending on his or her views and experiences.
M.J. Longley serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Cool Inlet Tribal Council, Inc. It serves the largest native population in Alaska. She spoke about her mother’s experience and how it affected her family’s culture, and views on life. Her family suffered from the epidemic flu, and was forced to move away from Alaska. When her mother returned, she could only speak English and did not speak any of her native language. She had lost a lot of her culture at the time. Longley’s mother was the only native at her high school, and had the honor of becoming a salutatorian at a time when there was a lot of segregation against Native Americans in Alaska. Her cousin was one of the victims of the racism at the time.
“My oldest cousin was jailed at the age of 16 for going to the movie theatre and sitting in the non-native section,” Longley said.
Longley believes that culture is something that changes throughout the years and depends on what the individual chooses to pass down. She defines her culture according to her family’s experiences. She had a unique upbringing due to her mother’s experience.
Sherry Aikaman is a coordinator in Embrey Human Rights Program. She took part in promoting the event.
“ We don’t often think of native people, so we don’t think about the issues that they face and the extreme poverty they live in, and the lac of education, “ Aikaman said.
Th Embrey Human Rights Program’s events are focused on raising awareness, according to Aikaman. She believe that individuals need to be aware of issues that are present in the community and work towards helping those in need, and make a change.
The event ended around 9 p.m. with an open panel for any questions and comments from the audience.