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Native American Studies program to begin at USCL

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LANCASTER, S.C. - With the administration's blessing, two teachers and an archivist at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster are working to start a Native American Studies program that might be active as early as this fall.

When the Native American Studies program officially gets off the ground at USCL, it will be the only one in the state and the region.

Professor Stephen Criswell said USCL Dean John Catalano recently expressed a desire to have the program in reaction to a collection of articles on the Catawba Indian Nation donated by Tomas J. Blumer, who had studied the Catawbas for more than 40 years, during last year's Native American Studies Week.

As a result, Catalano suggested the school go further and develop a Native American Studies program to better serve the students and community.

''We are moving slowly as we develop the curriculum,'' said Criswell. ''At this point we're offering courses that they [students] can carry with them as they transfer to USC in Columbia, Clemson, Winthrop or wherever they decide to go and support whatever major they end up in.''

Instructor Christopher Judge said a baccalaureate degree program can be developed for Native American Studies, where students can take two-year courses at USCL with telecourses from the main campus in Columbia, all leading to a four-year degree. The program will be part of a USC program known as ''Palmetto Programs,'' which allows student to receive bachelor degrees at USC's two-year satellite campuses in Lancaster, Salkehatchie, Sumter and Union.

Judge said, ''One of the things we're looking at is that we have on this campus as some of the regional campuses, Palmetto college programs sponsored by Columbia [USC]. It allows students on regional campuses, two-year campuses, to get four-year degrees. I think the courses here and through telecourses with other campuses - we're hoping as this develops, one of the bachelor degrees will be Native American Studies.''

Judge teaches courses on North American Indian Anthropology and Native American Legends and Mythology. Criswell, who nearly two years ago began a Catawba Studies program, teaches English and Native American Studies.

Criswell said USCL will hold another Native American Studies Week in the spring, highlighted by lectures and performances by local Natives and scholars. USCL also plans to hold a Catawba pow wow on campus on Nov. 17.

The teachers are also working with the local communities to promote a better understanding of local and state American Indian history and culture by having lectures and programs, such as Native American Studies Week. Eventually, they want to develop a series of films on American Indians, including exhibits. Now being discussed, he said, is an exhibit on Catawba potters, past and current.

Archivist Brent Burgin said information on American Indians is being sought. The school is gathering information on local tribes such as the Catawba, Peedee, Waccamaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee and Santee.

Burgin said, ''I want to collect the histories of these people. I want make contact with these tribes. I know where geographically they are located. We have to also determine what our collective focus will be - primarily Catawba, but I would like it to be basically a South Carolina/North Carolina focus, with some of the things from Virginia, just Southeastern.

''I'd like our archives to grow. I'd like to contact Catawba scholars, and hopefully acquire things from them.''