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American Indian Millennium Conference

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Ithaca, NY? Imagine if, around the turn of the 19th century, Native leaders, spirit keepers, educators, healers, and experienced elders assembled to send a message to the future. What stories would they have told us about their lives? What testimony would they have shared? What aspirations and admonitions would they have offered.

A major American Indian conference featuring two dozen prominent scholars and tribal culture-bearers, including former Principal Cherokee Chief, Wilma Mankiller, Blackfeet language educator Darryl Kipp, and Seneca historian John Mohawk will be sponsored by Cornell University's American Indian Program, Lifeway and Indian Country Today this fall -- to leave just such a message for the seventh generation.

From November 29 to December 2, 2001 dozens of Native American leaders, educators, youth, culture bearers, community members and national organizations will convene the intergenerational forum at Cornell University's Statler Hotel.

The conference is the result of planning and discussions by a council of Native advisors convened by Life Way, Cornell's Akwe: kon Press/Native Americas Journal, and Indian Country Today. The forum, 'American Indian Millennium: Renewing Our Ways of Life for Future Generations,' will examine the trends and challenges facing Native communities in the 21st century, according to Dagmar Thorpe (Sac and Fox), director of Life Way and originator of the conference concept. The forum is being supported by contributions from W.K. Kellogg Foundation, First Nations Development Institute Opportunity Fund, Ettinger Foundation, Fetzer Institute, French American Charitable Trust and Joshua Mailman.

'The Native American world contains deep cultural knowledge,' said Jos? Barreiro, Editor in Chief of Native Americas magazine and a conference organizer. 'At this historical moment, we are asking culture-bearing elders as well as intellectual voices to conceive a message for their Seventh Generation to come.'

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"Now, at the beginning of a new century, we want to assemble American Indian leaders to share their experiences," said Tim Johnson, executive editor of Indian Country Today and co-founder of the American Indian Program's Native Americas Journal at Cornell. "We've asked them to think deeply about what they would say if they could speak directly to the seventh generation. What have they learned through their own struggles? Why have they dedicated themselves to their peoples and communities? What hopes do they hold dear for their children's children?"

Through intergenerational discussions, presentations, statements, questions and responses?by generations that have experienced and accomplished things over several decades?published and audio-visual material including a curriculum will be developed for dissemination within Native communities and schools.

While seating capacity is limited, arrangements are being made to live video-feed the conference to selected sites at Cornell.

John Mohawk, professor at University of Buffalo, added 'We need to make fundamental changes in the way we view, process, and present our culture to the next generation. Center our traditions in a way that young people who have an education can embrace them without feeling that they are acting on something that doesn't apply to them or doesn't make sense. We want to see our traditions made coherent in the world."

For more information check out http://nativeamericas.aip.cornell.edu/AIMC/aimc.html or contact Brendan White at (607) 255-0421, bfw2@cornell.edu, Akwe:kon Press, Cornell University, 450 Caldwell Hall, Ithaca, N. 14853.