Culture and future celebrated

The first WSU conference dedicated to the recognition, celebration and preservation of traditional cultures of the Plateau Peoples will be held Sept. 29-30.

The conference will inform participants about traditional cultures of the Plateau and pay tribute to individuals who preserved these traditions.

“These are people who grew up during times when efforts to suppress their language and culture dominated governmental policy,” said Mary Collins, conference coordinator and associate director of the WSU Museum of Anthropology, “and yet they have worked hard to retain their traditional knowledge and are now willing to share that knowledge with not only their children and grandchildren but also their non-Indian neighbors.”

The conference also will provide opportunities to see how tribes are working to preserve the natural resources of their lands. “Many people don’t feel the connection to the land like the Native Americans do,” Collins said. “Having this affinity for their homeland gives them a unique perspective toward preservation and use of resources … we could learn a lot from them.” Tribal elders, leaders, students, researchers, educators and other professionals can participate in sessions that address historical and contemporary issues that have affected and continue to affect the Plateau Tribes. The conference is coordinated by faculty, staff and the Native American Advisory Board to the President of the university.

The conference comes as the College of Liberal Arts works to fund and establish the Plateau Center for American Indian Studies.

Plateau Peoples conference presentations and lectures will be held in the Compton Union Building and are open to the public. Registration fees entitle attendees to conference literature and two days of lectures and meals, including a traditional dinner coordinated by Umatilla elders Ron and Janie Pond.

Fees are $125, or $25 for students. Register at Faculty, staff and students are invited to attend one or two sessions without registering for the entire conference, but preferential seating will go to registered participants.