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Newberry meeting looks into future of American Indian studies

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CHICAGO - Top-level scholars from around the country will debate the future of academic American Indian studies at the end of January at this city's Newberry Library, home of one of the nation's major collections of Indian materials. The meeting will raise pressing issues for these programs at all levels, such as bringing in Native students and hanging on to them, and getting mainstream colleges in better touch with tribal communities.

But the accomplishments of these programs will also get a hearing. The meeting, called "American Indian Perspectives on the Humanities in the 21st Century: A National Conference and Conversation," is sponsored by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) American Indian Studies Consortium and will be held at the Newberry Library on Jan 24-25. It is being organized by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation and the Newberry Library's D'Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian History, named for the Salish-Kootenai scholar who helped establish the center in 1972 to improve the quality of teaching and scholarship about American Indians.

Presentations and discussions will explore practical issues such as student recruitment and retention strategies for colleges and universities, tribal college and reservation-based community education programs, and strategies for colleges and research universities to better connect with tribal communities.

The conference will begin on Jan. 24 with a welcome from Joe Podlasek, director of Chicago's American Indian Center, and an honoring song by the drum group Cricketthill. Jack Forbes, Powhatan-Renape/Delaware Lenape, will present "Challenges for Native Scholars: Facing Eurocentrism." On Jan. 25, Janine Pease-Pretty On Top, Crow, will address "The Role of the Humanities in Tribal Colleges" and Kathryn Shanley, Nakota/Assiniboine, will present "Coyote's Heart: Survival of the American Indian Intellectual."

The Newberry Library houses one of the largest collections of American Indian materials in the world, the Edward E. Ayer collection. It consists of 130,000 volumes including American Indian autobiographies, 19th-century linguistic works and numerous works by 20th-century American Indian authors. Researchers in the Ayer collection can also explore objects within the collection's 2,000 maps, 500 atlases, 6,000 photographs and 3,500 drawings and paintings.

Admission is free to the keynote speeches of this national conference. Admission to the entire conference is $25. To register for the conference, please contact the McNickle Center at (312) 255-3564 or mcnickle@newberry.org, or visit www.newberry.org.