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KU Holds Symposium on U.S.-Indian Relations


The final stop in a three-year series of symposia focusing on diplomatic relations between American Indian tribes and the U.S. government will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12, at the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, UK announced.

The symposium is free and open to the public. The symposium will open with a tribal flag ceremony presented by the Prairie Band Potawatomi Color Guard. Outside the Dole Institute. Flags representing all of the tribes encountered by the Lewis and Clark expedition will be on display. As part of the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration, the flags were thoroughly researched and made available for the first time as an integrated collection, according to the announcement.

Speakers will discuss American Indian issues and policies that have arisen in the 200 years since Lewis and Clark traveled through the country. The opening presentation will focus on Lewis and Clark’s political interactions with Indian nations. Other presentations will focus on the preservation of indigenous languages and the history of American Indian boarding schools.

Kevin Willmott, associate professor of theatre and film at KU and director of “CSA: Confederate States of America” and “Bunker Hill,” will be a featured speaker. Also appearing will be actor Wes Studi of “Last of the Mohicans” and “Geronimo”; Robert J. Miller, professor at Lewis and Clark Law School, Portland, Ore.; Todd Fuller, president of Pawnee Nation College, Pawnee, Okla.; and Dan Wildcat, director of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center and the American Indian Studies Program at Haskell Indian Nations University.

The event will premiere exclusive clips from the upcoming film “The Only Good Indian,” starring Studi and directed by Willmott. Thomas L. Carmody, writer and producer of the film, will also attend, along with fellow producers Greg Hurd and Scott Richardson.

In 2003, the Lewis and Clark Midwest Trail States formed an alliance to host events on the importance of diplomatic relations among federal, state and local governments and American Indian tribes. The trail states are Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The Kansas Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission has been the lead state and managed the symposium project.

“Through these public symposia, we have sought to reshape and enrich the conversation about the Lewis and Clark expedition and the cultural aftermath experienced by the tribal nations following the Lewis and Clark expedition,” said Chris Howell, vice chair of the Kansas Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission and coordinator of the events. “It is the hope of the Midwest Trail States that these symposia will lead to further research and perhaps foster changes in the diplomatic relationships of the United States and tribal nations across the United States.”

The final event at KU is sponsored by a National Park Service grant, the Dole Institute of Politics, Kansas State Historical Society, Kansas Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission, the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas.

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