2015 Meskwaki Symposium
Staff from the University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist, the American Indian and Native Studies Program, and Departments of History and English will be participating in the 2015 Meskwaki Symposium, and we encourage others to join us! This event is free and open to the public as a welcoming forum for participants to learn about what types of research has been done in academia regarding the Tribe. It provides a unique opportunity for tribal participants to meet and interact with researchers and, conversely, for those researchers to meet, talk, and share with the people and culture they have researched.
The Meskwaki Symposium will be held on Monday and Tuesday, October 12-13, 2015, and is a celebration of Meskwaki heritage and provides a rare opportunity for tribal members and the general public to hear directly from Academic experts as well as Tribal members and staff about research that has been done, and also meet and interact with those researchers. This occasion also provides a chance for those researchers to meet, talk, and share with the people and culture they have researched. The overarching focus of this symposium is to disseminate information and promote education for a deeper understanding of the Meskwaki Tribe’s past and present with emphasis on history, language, art, food systems and land use.
The Meskwaki, an Algonquian-speaking tribe from the Great Lakes region, have a rich history under investigation by leading humanist scholars. New scholarship by these historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, linguists, and artists generates perspectives on the past and present experiences of the Meskwaki. The primary objective is to host presentations and activities, which examine different periods and events in Meskwaki history and engage audiences in discussions of the documentary, archaeological, and oral evidence for it. Reinforced throughout for the all participants is the importance of learning, interpreting, and, ultimately, transmitting personal, family, and tribal histories and how doing so strengthens and renews human experiences that link people together across time and across cultures.
2015 Meskwaki Symposium: Overview
The Meskwaki Nation will host an admission-free, two-day symposium that offers perspectives on, and insights to, areas of history, research, contemporary life and the art and creative economy of the Meskwaki Tribe, and will be convened at the Meskwaki Indian Settlement on October 12-13, 2015 in the Meskwaki Casino’s Veterans Convention Center.
Tribal members and the broader public will hear directly from academic researchers and representatives of creative occupations who have studied tribal history, culture, language, genealogy and art. Temporary historical and tribal art exhibits will be positioned throughout the Symposium areas, and an interactive genealogical research activity led by a genealogist will be on-going in a conference room that allows participants to explore primary source documents and create a Meskwaki family tree chart or learn about genealogy research techniques even if they have no Meskwaki relatives.
In 2008, the Meskwaki Tribe partnered with Humanities Iowa and delivered a highly successful and very unique first-ever symposium held on Meskwaki land about Meskwaki History. The symposium dealt with archaeology and history of the Meskwaki Tribe by focusing on pivotal, defining moments in the Meskwaki story as told by academic research perspectives to the Meskwaki people and to the general public. This type of “direct” information had lived within the academic world but was a rare opportunity for the Tribe to hear the academic interpretation of what has been known as traditional, oral history passed down for generations.
What is different about the proposed 2015 Meskwaki Symposium is that academic study is not static. More has been learned in the past 7 years since 2008: New analyses have been made, more research has been accomplished, and deeper understandings have developed. Individually speaking, as we all age our lives change, meanings are more complex, and our understandings of ourselves, our ancestors, and our world includes more subtle and not so subtle things. Tribal ways of teaching often call for the reinforcement of information through repetition over the course of years. For example, tribal history and legends are taught over and over with the understanding that the listener, a young child, will understand in their own way and as that child ages their understanding of the same story becomes deeper and broader as life experiences have a steady impact of molding a person during the course of a lifetime. Although the Meskwaki people know their traditional history well, few have had the opportunity to learn the formal academic research that has been devoted to many parts of their amazing collective history. Continuing the dialogues that arise from symposiums such as this are important in reminding researchers and tribal people alike of the extent to which academic and tribal knowledges are intellectually and socially interpreted when the similar pieces of information circulate between formal and informal systems of history and memory. Expanded with this symposium is time reserved for Meskwaki voices and the inclusion of Meskwaki artists and the introduction of important present undertakings by the Tribe such as language preservation, food systems and connections to the land.
Also new in this Symposium are components that highlight the Tribe’s inherent “creative economy” by including presentations about creativity and the showcasing of art, artifacts, and imagery. Art has long been valued as a key factor in the success of the Tribe’s many creative enterprises – those defined as any organization or individual endeavors for which the primary value of its products or services is rooted in its emotional, aesthetic, or cultural appeal to the customer or user. Types of creative enterprises currently at work within the tribe - whether undertaken for monetary gain, personal satisfaction, or cultural expression or a combination therein – include but are not limited to the existing sub-groups:
· Design, applying artistic content to something created: Sewing, beadwork, pow wow regalia, ceremonial articles, signage, posters, graphic design, fashion design, architectural expressions in signage, form or function of buildings, meeting places, ceremonial houses, etc.
· Heritage (Knowledge): Museum, Cultural Center, the telling of historical accounts, the interpretation of events by seeing them through a cultural lens, archivists, curators, scholars, interpretive displays at the exhibit tent or hotel lobby or tribal center or school commons and hallways, Pow wows, special events, cultural events, food sovereignty (gardening, farming, preparation, preservation, hunting, gathering, heritage seed protection), traditional ceremonial events, etc. “Tribal Government Employees”, regardless of departmental focus, are charged with developing work plans that incorporate cultural qualities of the Tribe and seek to capitalize on the strength of, or restore strength to, the cultural assets and attributes of the community. This sub-group relies heavily on unpaid volunteers and community leadership and participation.
· Literary and publishing: authors, bloggers, poets, writers, but also the newsletter editors, publishers, website managers, print shops, libraries, bookstores, and newsstands that make creative/cultural thoughts available to the public.
· Performing arts: drums, musicians, singers, dancers, promoters, arena directors, emcees, musical instrument makers, and the venues at which they perform, etc.
· Media/Communications: Photographers, advertising design, direct mail, public relations, Emcee announcers, reporters, audio and video equipment technicians, internet providers/technicians, speech writers, etc.
· Visual arts and crafts: The moccasin makers, the beaders, the sewers, sketchers, painters, photographers, sculptors, potters, metal artists, jewelry makers, carvers and other artisans who create products as well as the shops and galleries and special events that show and sell them.
This project provides a forum to preserve cultural history, promote primary historical resources and photography, promote the vitality and relevancy of tribal art and artistic perspectives in creative enterprises, foster interaction between tribal members, the general public and scholars, explore the past and present lands inhabited by the Meskwaki people, provide cultural competency training, and finally, reach out to and engage people of all walks of life in the rich history of the Meskwaki people. The focus of this symposium is to disseminate information and promote education for a deeper understanding of the Meskwaki Tribe’s past and its value to the present.
The audience will range from tribal community members to the general public, from professionals to students, from locals to visitors, and from humanists to the idly curious. By providing a welcoming forum for participants to learn about what types of research has been done in academia regarding the Tribe, it provides a unique opportunity for tribal participants to meet and interact with researchers and, conversely, for those researchers to meet, talk, and share with the people and culture they have researched as well as for the researchers themselves to learn from each other, and finally to elevate awareness of the Tribe’s historic and contemporary presence in the minds of the general public and the Tribe’s working partners.
EVERYONE IS WELCOME!
This symposium is made possible by a Major Grant from Humanities Iowa.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at 9:00am to 4:30pm
Meskwaki Casino Veterans Convention Center, Tama, IA