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The Sámi and Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) meet at the Indigenous and American Studies Storytellers Conference, SUNY, Buffalo

Čálliidlágádus had the significant opportunity to be represented at the 10th Annual Indigenous and American Studies Storytellers Conference in SUNY, Buffalo, New York, organized by the Native Graduate Association and the American Studies Graduate Student Association. The organizers generously offered free vendor space and tables for the publisher and a number of local Indigenous craftspeople and small businesses and organizations. ČálliidLágádus had several English titles for sale at the event. Ellen Marie Jensen, in conjunction with her PhD research, presented a paper and then staffed the publisher’s table for most of the conference. The books that generated the most interest by far were "What We Believe In” and "Nature Heals.”

Photo: Ellen Marie Jensen staffs the publisher’s table at the 10th Annual Indigenous and American Studies Storytellers Conference.

Ellen Marie states: "What was interesting about this event, in contrast to others I have attended over the years in North America, is that most of the people actually knew about Sápmi and the Sámi people. It was refreshing to be able to talk about shared issues facing Indigenous people globally, that is, without having to play the role of the proverbial ‘Sámi encyclopedia.’ It is clear that the Sámi have been making strides in raising awareness in North America about ourselves from our own perspectives.”

Buffalo, New York is on the traditional lands of the Seneca people, one of six Indigenous nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (Iroquois)—also known as the people of the longhouse. Most of the Indigenous presenters, participants and vendors were members of nations from the confederacy, which includes the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora Nations. Similar to the Sámi concept of "oktasašvuohta” – the great community of belonging—the theme of the conference was the Mohawk concept of "kahwatsire” meaning, "all our fires are all connected.” This concept was reflected in the conference’s openness to all community members—including children, elders, and non-academics—whose voices and presence were also reflected in the programming.
The opening of the conference commenced with a "Thanksgiving Address,” also referred to as "The Words That Come Before All Else” in the Mohawk language. Jodi Maracle (Tyndinaga Mohawk) gave the impressive address in her Native language that she has taken back aided by the Yonkyiyana’tonnis Mohawk Immersion Program.

Jennifer Loft (Six Nations Mohawk), conference organizer and vice-president of the Native Students Association, explained the Thanksgiving Address:
"The address is given at meetings, socials and ceremonies. It basically thanks all of Creation, starting with the animals and life forms on Earth and moving up to the beings of the sky world. Some of the things that are thanked are Mother Earth, waters, water creatures, medicine, berries, trees, birds, winds, the thunders, sun and moon. Reciting the whole thing could take up to 20 minutes or more, but people can make their own version, some are long and some are short. After each section that you give thanks to, it is customary that everyone else responds with "tho” or "huh” which signifies that we are all in agreement. You can learn more about the Iroquois oral tradition in a book by Tom Porter called ‘And Grandma Said: Iroquois Teachings as Passed Down Through the Oral Tradition.’”

The conference organizers and keynote from left to right: Beynan Ransom (Akwesasne Mohawk), Jodi Maracle (Tyendinaga Mohawk), Gerald Taiaiake Alfred (Kahnawake Mohawk), Jennifer Loft (Six Nations Mohawk), and Montgomery Hill (Tuscarora). (Source: Jennifer Loft)

Other highlights of the conference were: a Haudenosaunee longhouse social; the keynote lecture given by the notable Native scholar, Professor Gerald Taiaike Alfred (Kahnawake Mohawk); a film and talk about the Tuscarora Migration Project; as well as presentations on oral tradition, food sovereignty, traditional medicines, Indigenous media, and Native language revitalization projects.

For more on the conference see: http://gsa.buffalo.edu/AMSGSA/

For the Yonkyiyana’tonnis Mohawk Immersion Program: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Yonkhiyanatonnis-Mohawk-Immersion-Program/234754623315014

For more on the Tuscarora Migration Project, see: http://tuscaroramigration.org/

For information on Authors’ Publisher events and publications in North America, see: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Authors-Publisher/468364963269750

Mihkku Solbakk

TjaelijiBerteme - TjállijAlmmudahka - ForfatternesForlag - AuthorsPublisher

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