Pellissippi State celebrates Native American month with speaker, performers

Pellissippi State Technical Community College will celebrate November’s Native American Heritage Month by hosting two free events.

On Nov. 14 at 11 a.m. in the student lounge of Goins Administration Building, speaker Valerie Ohle of the Delaware tribe will present “American traditions: Native American mascots, nicknames and logos—But Dude, I’m honoring you!” She is chair and CEO of Wisdom Keepers Inc. and editor of the Tanasi Journal. A discussion will follow.

On Nov. 27 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., musician Arvel Bird will appear in concert in the Goins Student Lounge. Bird is a contemporary fiddler and classically trained violinist whose ancestors are from Scotland and the Southern Paiute/Me’tis tribe.

Also performing, elders Rahkweeskeh Miller, with the Tuscarora tribe, Eel clan; Awaatokitoe Davis, with the Cherokee tribe, Wolf clan; and Watagui “Archie” Russ, with the Ottawa/Odawa tribe, Beaver clan.

The presenters will tell stories, discuss cultural traditions and objects and perform both contemporary and traditional songs. Emerson Begay of the Navajo tribe, Jon Cox of the Cherokee tribe and other singers will close the festivities with an exhibition of traditional drumming, singing and dancing.

“Come meet my people, my relations,” said Ohle. “We’re still here. We never left. We never became extinct. We’re here and we have a few things we’d like to teach you about us and about yourselves. Let’s start a dialogue.”

Wisdom Keepers Inc. is a nonprofit organization working to create opportunities to learn about indigenous cultures from indigenous peoples.

“Pellissippi State is pleased to acknowledge the contributions of Native Americans,” said Allen Edwards, president of the college. The celebration is sponsored by the Access and Diversity Committee.

The name “Pellissippi” comes from the Cherokee word “Pelisipi,” which means “winding waters,” in reference to the Clinch River.

For more information, contact Gayle Wood, director of the Access and Diversity Office, at 865-539-7160.

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