Museum to host two programs on Mississippi Choctaws

In conjunction with its current exhibit, “Mississippi Choctaws: Traditional Life in a Modern World,” the Wake Forest University Museum of Anthropology will present two programs on Choctaw life.

On Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m., Margaret Bender, Wake Forest assistant professor of anthropology, will present a slide lecture titled, “Continuity and Change in Southeastern Indian Languages.” Bender, who is an anthropological linguist specializing in Cherokee language and its culture, will explore how the Mississippi Choctaw and other Southeastern Indian groups are maintaining or increasing language proficiency in their native languages through formal education and other programs. The lecture will include a discussion of the mutual influences between European and Southeastern Indian languages since the time of European contact.

The following week, Native American playwright and fiction writer Leanne Howe will read from one of her recent works. Howe is a visiting instructor in Wake Forest’s English department during the spring semester. She will speak at 7 p.m. Jan 25 in the museum classroom. After the reading, Howe will lead an informal discussion of contemporary Choctaw life.

Howe, who is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, has authored plays, legal essays, fiction and film scripts for public television documentaries. Her short stories have appeared in literary journals such as “Story,” “Callaloo,” “Fiction International,” and “Cimarron Review,” and in more than 10 anthologies. Most recently, her short story “Blood Sacrifice” appeared in the new anthology, “Through the Eye of the Deer.”

She will write the text for the permanent exhibit about Choctaw creation stories for the National Museum for the American Indian in Washington, D.C., scheduled to open in 2002. Howe has taught at Grinnell College, Carleton College and the University of Iowa.

The program is co-sponsored with the English department.

“Mississippi Choctaws: Traditional Life in a Modern World” (toured by the Southern Arts Federation) will run through Jan. 26. The exhibit is co-sponsored by Wake Forest’s American Ethnic Studies program.

Receptions will follow both presentations. The events are free and open to the public. For more information, call 758-5282 or e-mail:

Categories: Arts & Culture, Events