WFU symposium focuses on Native American Indian sovereignty

Wake Forest University will host the daylong event “Native American Indian Sovereignty: An Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cultural Symposium” on Nov. 6. The symposium is the post-convention event for the 2003 National Indian Education Association convention, scheduled for Nov. 1 to Nov. 5 in Greensboro.

The free, public event, offered as part of the university’s ongoing celebration of the 2003-2004 theme “Fostering Dialogue: Civil Discourse in an Academic Community,” starts at 8:30 a.m. in Wake Forest’s Benson University Center.

Members of several American Indian tribal nations from across the country, as well as a representative of native Hawaii and the indigenous peoples of Mexico, will gather for the symposium to explore topics such as “Sovereignty, Economics, and Politics in the United States,” “Native American Indian Sovereignty in North Carolina: Past, Present, Future,” “Cultural Identity, Autonomy, and Sovereignty,” and “Federal Recognition for State Recognized Tribes.”

Ulrike Wiethaus, professor of humanities at Wake Forest and an organizer of the event, said the symposium will focus on sovereignty in a broad sense. The term has a variety of meanings which are all linked to issues of economic well-being, education, cultural revival and revitalization within the American Indian community, she said.

David Wilkins, a Lumbee representative and professor of American Indian studies and adjunct professor of political science, law and American studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, will deliver the keynote speech “Indigenous Self-Determination: A Global Perspective.”

In addition to participants from the United States, Sister Josefa Hernandez Perez, a Mayan representative from San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, will participate in a roundtable discussion titled “Sovereignty, Autonomy, Independence: Multicultural Perspectives.”

Russell Eagle Bear, senior instructor in the Lakota Studies Department at Sinte Gleska University on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, will present “Changing Meanings: Threats to Lakota Sovereignty in South Dakota.” Harry Charger, a member of the Sans Arc band of the Lakota people, will discuss the topic “Education, Government and Religion: Obstacles or Opportunities for American Indian Sovereignty.”

“North Carolina has the largest Native American Indian population east of the Mississippi, so it makes sense for Wake Forest University to host events like the symposium,” Wiethaus said.

A full schedule of events planned for the symposium is available on the Web at For more information about the event or to register, contact Ulrike Wiethaus at or 336-758-7169; or Rosa Winfree, chair of the NIEA planning committee, at or 704-933-0576.

Categories: Arts & Culture, Events, Speakers