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Expo keeps tradition at its curricular core

Sarah Cummins

1/14/2002 12:00:00 AM

An upcoming career-oriented event will help connect students culturally while keeping college-bound youth informed about their educational choices.

Career Expo 2002, sponsored by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, will take place Feb. 14 and 15 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m at the Holiday Inn located at 5665 E. Pickard St., Mt. Pleasant. This year's theme, "Keeping Traditions Alive as We Continue to Grow and Change as Anishinaabe People," will mark the annual event's eighth year.

"The philosophy behind the Career Expo is that even though you continue your education and pursue career opportunities, this doesn't mean that you leave your culture and values behind-you take them with you," explained Saginaw Chippewa Higher Education Coordinator Sharon Skutt.

About 300 people attend the conference each year. Research conducted over the last two years has shown that expo participants feel culture should be a major aspect of the event as well. According to Skutt, surveys were conducted at both the 2000 and 2001 expos and the overall collected data showed that participants wanted to see more cultural workshops. The information also showed participants hoped the exposition would expand to a two-day event.

"We asked them about the workshops, any changes they wanted and about the format," said Skutt. "They wanted the conference to last two days and for there to be more cultural workshops."

Three new presenters have been added to the curriculum to meet these cultural needs. The presenters include, Billy Rogers (Kiowa) who will focus on peer pressure; Kateri Walker (Saginaw Chippewa) whose topic is Native Americans in the arts; and Al Zantua (Tsimpshian/Haida) who will talk about Northwest culture. Zantua also participated in Career Expo 1998.

Returning presenters, include Mide Megwun (Ojibwe, Midewiwin Society) with traditional values and healthy lifestyles, Helen Roy (Wikwemikong Odawa, Deer Clan) with Ojibwe language preservation, Stanley Peltier (Wikwemikong Odawa, Deer Clan) with traditional herbs and medicines, Ben Hinmon (Saginaw Chippewa, Bear Clan) with cultural preservation and George Martin (Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe, Midewiwin Society) with Ojibwe cardinal colors.

Although the event will now take place over two days, the daily curriculum remains nearly the same. On both days, sign in begins at 8 a.m. with general assembly at 8:30 a.m. Workshops will start at 9:15 a.m. and will break for lunch at 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The presentations will continue after lunch.

During the afternoon meal on Jan. 14, Rogers will serve as keynote speaker. He is the director of the Native Wellness and Healing Institute, an organization he launched in April 2000. Rogers has degrees in psychology and public health and is a nationally recognized public speaker.

The keynote speaker during the Jan. 15 luncheon will be Lloyd M. Elm. Elm (Onondaga/Oneida) is the principal of Mounds Park All Nations Magnet Schools in St. Paul, Minn. This Marine Corps veteran has a doctorate in education administration and has worked in Native American education fields since 1971.

In keeping with the educational focus of the expo, about 25 colleges and universities will have information booths and representatives available for students to talk to on Feb. 15. Deadline to reserve a booth is Jan. 25.

"We give students the opportunity to visit with college representatives from all over the state rather than going all over to talk to them," explained Skutt. "It's a good opportunity for them to talk to representatives from the schools of their choice."

The staff from various Saginaw Chippewa Tribal entities can provide information at the expo on Feb. 14. Deadline to reserve a booth is Jan. 25.

For more information regarding the expo or to reserve space, call (989) 775-4506.