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Vanderbilt University to Host First Powwow

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NASHVILLE, TN – As part of Vanderbilt University’s commemoration of Constitution and Citizenship Day, on Wednesday, September, 17, 2014, the newly formed student organization called Native Americans in Tennessee Interacting at Vanderbilt (NATIVe) will be hosting its inaugural event called“Nations Within States: Citizenship, Pottery & The Catawba Indian Nation."

The Event features a pottery exhibit of the Catawba Indian Nation, a panel discussion on Indian sovereignty, and the first ever powwow dance performance to be held at Vanderbilt University. As the smallest ethnic group by representation at the prestigious institution (<1% incoming students last fall), NATIVe wants to bring together the American Indian community in Tennessee and increase the public profile of First Americans.

Constitution and Citizenship Day is annually observed to honor the signing of the United States Constitution and to recognize the liberties and responsibilities of citizenship. For modern-day American Indians, the notion of U.S. citizenship is contentious as it frequently conflicts with tribal sovereignty. Tennessee does not have any state or federally-recognized Tribal nations since the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which led to the Trail of Tears. On the 200th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, in 1988, Congress passed Concurrent Resolution 331 to acknowledge the contribution of the Iroquois Confederacy of Nations to the development of the Bill of Rights.

NATIVe is co-founded by Vanderbilt students Krystal Tsosie, Diné (Navajo) Nation of Arizona, in the Human Genetics PhD and Master of Public Health Epidemiology programs; and Holly Glass, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, senior studying Anthropology. Alisa Yockonhawken and Dr. Nanibaa’ Garrison, PhD, both Diné (Navajo) Nation of New Mexico, of Campus Planning Architecture & Construction and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics for the Center for Biomedical Ethics & Society, respectively, both serve as active advisors.

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“Tennessee is a stark contrast to my original state of Arizona, which has sovereign lands for each Tribal nation to call their own. I am hoping our NATIVe organization will provide a means for Tennessee Natives to come together and find a cultural home,” says President and co-Founder, Krystal Tsosie, who plans to pursue a career in cancer genetics after completing her doctoral thesis.

On her excitement about this being NATIVe’s inaugural event, Glass states, “I'm interested and really excited about NATIVe because it provides an opportunity to indigenize Vanderbilt and show that just because we represent 0.4% of the student body, we're not invisible and we can still have a strong presence.” Glass’ future plans after completing her undergraduate degree is to pursue a Master in Public Health and a PhD in Anthropology.

For event informationFacebook.com