MOSCOW, Idaho - The Native American Student Association at the University of Idaho held its ninth annual Tutxinmepu Powwow in late March and used the occasion to introduce Angelique EagleWoman, a law professor who will join the university's College of Law next fall to teach American Indian law, seminars on Native natural resources and other subjects of interest to Indian tribes.
This addition is in keeping with the university's decision to strengthen its offerings and commitments to the Native community. It follows the hiring last fall of Arthur Taylor, Nez Perce, to work in tribal liaison and Steven Martin, Muskogee Creek/Choctaw, as director of the Native student center. The University of Idaho, along with four other regional colleges and universities, further strengthened that commitment with a joint memorandum of understanding to assist Native students with programs to help make them more successful.
EagleWoman is a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota. She is currently a visiting faculty member at the University of Kansas School of Law and a former faculty member at Hamline University Law School in Minnesota.
She has served as general counsel to her tribe and tribal public defender for the Kaw and Ponca nations in Oklahoma. She has also worked in the private sector for an Indian law firm in Washington, D.C. She holds a bachelor's degree from Stanford University, a juris doctor degree from the University of North Dakota, and an LL.M. degree with honors in American Indian and indigenous law from the University of Tulsa.
Asked about her decision to relocate, EagleWoman said, ''Idaho was looking for someone to build relations between the tribes and the law school and also build Indian law curriculum. That's really my passion.'' She plans to move in June and spend the summer becoming acquainted with the various tribes and tribal attorneys in the region.
''It's an exciting time to be an Indian lawyer,'' she remarked. ''There are so many things that tribal nations are in need of in terms of advocacy, so many things that any attorney practicing in an area where there are tribes needs to know. It's an exciting profession to be in and I am thrilled and honored to be here in Idaho as an Indian law professor.''
She shared the stage with Steven Aycock, who has been traveling from the Colville Reservation to teach part-time at the university this year. He is chief judge for the Colville tribal court and an alumnus of the University of Idaho School of Law.
Tutxinmepu is a Nez Perce word for ''the place where the deer lost their spots'' and refers to this Palouse region where the University of Idaho is located. Martin stressed that the pow wow is not just for Native students, but a social gathering to meet old friends and make new ones. Students and community people were encouraged to attend to learn more about Native culture.
NASA member Rubell Dingman, Washoe/Shoshoni, reported about 130 dancers and 14 drums were registered. There were more vendors this year, and food concessions were operated by NASA to help pay the costs of the pow wow.
''It was a great experience for those in attendance,'' she said. ''A lot of them haven't been exposed to Native cultures that way.''
Martin commented about changes made this year. One major change was moving the date from October, as in the past, to mid-March: a move that allowed graduating Indian students to be recognized for their achievements. ''We want this to be an annual event at the pow wow. Getting close to graduation time allows us to do that.
''Trina Villalobos [Nez Perce] was singled out for recognition. She actually graduated in December in chemistry and wants to go on and get her Ph.D. in organic chemistry.
''Another important addition was the recognition of our alumni,'' he said. ''We want to reconnect with our Native American alums at the University of Idaho. We want to bring them back into the family. Every year at the pow wow, we plan to recognize a distinguished alum.''
This year's honoree was Frankie SiJohn, Coeur d'Alene, who now serves as a member of the gaming board for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe. He received a plaque and a Pendleton blanket.
''We also wanted to recognize our teen dancers as those will be the next group to go into our college,'' Martin said. ''That was a good recognition this year. In addition, we added a chili and cornbread meal and invited all our guests to attend. That was a big hit and allowed us to show our appreciation for them coming to support our pow wow.''