Char-Koosta News

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Salish Kootenai College celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy

By Lailani Upham

Dr. George Price, University of Montana Native American Studies and History and African American Studies Professor dances around the hand drum singers during the Idle No More Flash Mob round dance at the Southgate Mall in Missoula on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012. Dr. Price said the event was an inspiration of a whole legacy of American history, with voices around the world making a unified statement - that injustices in history do not have to repeat. (Lailani Upham photo) Dr. George Price, University of Montana Native American Studies and History and African American Studies Professor dances around the hand drum singers during the Idle No More Flash Mob round dance at the Southgate Mall in Missoula on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012. Dr. Price said the event was an inspiration of a whole legacy of American history, with voices around the world making a unified statement - that injustices in history do not have to repeat. (Lailani Upham photo)

PABLO — For almost 20 years Salish Kootenai College has been sponsoring a free weeklong community event to promote diversity in the community and world through the Martin Luther King, Jr. legacy.

Each year the theme remains the same – diversity – however, the material presented varies.

Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools.”

The timing for this year’s event ties into the peaceful Idle No More protests that originated with Canadian tribes and is now gaining steady traction in the United States with people of all tribes bringing attention and awareness to Native issues - specifically the Canadian Bill C-45.

Chief Stan Beardy of the Assembly of First Nations in Ontario stated that the matter relating to this bill breaches Canada’s laws on fiduciary legal duty to consult and negotiate with First Nations.

Flash mob round dances are being held across Canada and the U.S. by Native communities and SKC is no exception.

An Idle No More Flash Mob Round Dance is scheduled for Friday, January 18 to close out the MLK Jr. week events.

The round dance will be at 10 a.m. in front of the Joe McDonald Health and Athletic Center parking lot.

SKC Idle No More Flash Mob organizer and Medical Ecology/Anthropology professor, Dr. Lori Lambert and SKC Librarian and organizer Natalie Malatarre welcomes singers with hand drums in hand; and supporters with signs on deck to come out on Friday to unite in one accord.

MLK Jr. events will begin on Tuesday, January 15, with the Diversity Fair at the Joe McDonald Health Center in the Camas Room, where hundreds of school-age children will be bussed in to experience the work and vision of MLK Jr., and to enjoy stations of activities.

SKC students, staff and the public are also encouraged to take part in the Diversity Fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., says SKC professor Doug Ruhman and MLK Jr. events coordinator.

Wednesday, January 16, Dr. George Price, University of Montana’s Native American Studies and History and African American Studies Professor will be addressing the connections that exist between Native American and African American culture and heritage regarding civil rights.

Dr. Price says he will impart a brief overview, with photos and stories of the historical relations between Indigenous Americans and people of African descent in America.

“I will talk about shared struggles and activism against the attempts to “divide and conquer” us all - including poor and working class people of European descent,” Price stated.

“I will connect past to present, and establish the relevance of it all to where we are now and where we might be headed,” he added.

Dr. Price was present during the Idle No More Flash Mob on Sunday, December 23, 2012 at Southgate Mall in Missoula.

According to Price, the idea of a round dance to make a statement is a beautiful way to express a unified voice, “It is a contagious feeling of inspiration,” he said.

Dr. Price who has been a part of movements, such as, the anti-nuclear weapons and anti-war movements in the1960’s said each movement has it’s own energy and enthusiasm.

He said, he hopes that the Idle No More movement will not fade out.

Price says what is needed to keep the movement alive and effective is to not remain “event-based” or “feeling-based.” The idea must be translated into knowledge and policy formation, he added.

Price also stated those who stand behind the cause should have a substantial answer to what is going on to educate others.

Price says the social media is a pretty big grapevine that goes beyond the mainstream media to get a message out - and should be used as a tool to educate the world on real issues.

“In the 60’s and 70’s that’s all we had to rely on was the media,” stated Price.

Price adds that through social media - a unified voice can make change happen.

“We don’t have to wait for the leaders. However, people must be articulate in knowledge of what is happening in order to stay empowered, Price said.

Education gives the movement a leg to stand on, stated Price.

Dr. Price has been teaching in Montana for decades. Price has lived on the Flathead Reservation since 1985, and taught for ten years at Two Eagle River School and three years at SKC; and has been teaching at the University of Montana for the past 14 years.

Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m., an “Interfaith Peace Panel” will be held at the Johnny Arlee/Victor Charlo Theatre.

The panel will be a collective discussion involving spiritual leaders from diverse perspectives in Montana to address the question “What Unites Us?” according to Ruhman.

“Organizers of this event hope that through constructive dialogue and mutually respectful communication, we can gain understandings about how we can all work to promote healthy, vibrant communities that embrace our diversity and foster a more peaceful coexistence, locally and globally,” said Ruhman.

Questions for the panelists can be submitted through Facebook at www.facebook.com/MLKpanel or email at doug_ruhman@skc.edu.

SKC will be closed on Monday, January 21, in accordance with the MLK holiday.

For more information on SKC’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Week, contact Doug Ruhman at (406) 275-4763 or doug_ruhman@skc.edu..

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