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FNECC craft night teaches Native American heritage

POSTED AT 11:12 PM ON Sep. 5, 2013  (UPDATED AT 11:26 PM ON Sep. 5, 2013)

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The sounds of chanting and drum beats filled the second floor of Weatherley Hall. Tribal members’ steady hands sewed beaded works of art, a craft handed down to them by their ancestors.

The First Nations Educational Culture Center had a craft night and potluck dinner for the Native American community Thursday night.

The evening began with friendly conversation and an array of food. FNECC Director Brian Gilley said they will have many events this coming year, including weekly craft nights, a spring film festival and several guest speakers and performers to celebrate Native American Heritage Month in November.

“One of the things that we try to do is replicate the native communities the faculty and the students all come from,” Gilley said.  “Getting together, eating, working on your crafts, singing, those are all things you would do in your community.”

Gilley said they have over 25 different Native American tribes that attend these events every week.

“A lot of us represent multiple tribes, like myself. My native descendants are from four different tribes and African slaves. A majority of tribes are southeast,” Gilley said.

The FNECC welcomes and invites students to attend the events as well. Grace Crain, Wright Quad resident assistant, invited students in her residence hall to attend.  

“I brought some residents here to experience the nation’s first culture.” Crain said.

She said she and the two students who accompanied her enjoyed the stories and history of the Native Americans present at the meeting, including guest speaker Spero M. Manson, professor of public health and psychiatry director at the University of Colorado. Manson answered several questions about his culture during the event.

“I think there are a variety of forces at work that shape you. I actually think that a lot of the youths’ challenge today is the fact that they don’t have aunties or uncles or mentors or role models to help them navigate the challenges of life,” Manson said.

Galvlo’i Awoha’li shared the meaning behind his name with students at the crafting night and potluck dinner.

“It means ‘eagle, he soars in the vaults of heaven.’ Or you can just call me Eagle,” Awoha’li said.

Gilley said the goal of FNECC events is to get other Native Americans and students to become more aware of the tribal community they have started. He said community members will continue to share their Indian heritage and arts.

“All of us are away from the communities we grew up in, so we have this multi-tribal community,” Gilley said. “We try to do the best we can in terms of making a cultural home for folks.”

 

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