Smoke signals. (Grand Ronde, Or.) 19??-current, April 01, 2011, Page 8, Image 8

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    0 APRIL 1,2011
Smoke Signals
Grand Ronde hosts
Oregon State athletes
for Ethnic Studies and a
pickup basketball game
By Ron Karten
Smoke Signal Uff writer
Spring break means wild beach
parties in Cancun on some cam
puses, but for 20 athletes and other
students at Oregon State Universi
ty, this year's spring break featured
an intensive Ethnic Studies course
held in Oregon Indian Country.
The course, Learning Through
Listening, started 12 years ago as
one way to give Oregon State stu
dents a worthwhile endeavor for
the short spring vacation.
Today, the spring break program
continues to receive support from
faculty and coaches alike.
Oregon State head football coach
Mike Riley always encourages ath
letes to sign up, said Kurt Peters,
who runs the course and is profes
sor of Ethnic Studies at Oregon
"Part of it is the demands on
their time dictate that they often
don't have time to go home during
spring break," he said. "Sometimes,
they're catching up on academics;
sometimes, it's their normal work
out routines. And the idea that they
can take 30 classroom hours in one
week is very appealing."
But there is more.
"I am very excited for our athletes
to have the opportunity to take this
class in Grand Ronde," Riley said.
"This week can be a life-changing
moment for those that are in the
class. I know the guys that have
taken this class in the past have
had an awesome experience."
"The idea," said Peters, "is to
have students get out of the cam
pus setting and actually come
meet people on a one-to-one basis
to better understand how those
communities are organized and .
run, and to see the similarities
and differences among Native com
munities." Over the years, almost all nine
federally-recognized Oregon Tribes
have participated.
"If you go out in the community,"
said Peters, "you are forced to face
" :':
Tribal member Brent Merrill, right,
is guarded by an Oregon State
University student during a pickup
basketball game at the Tribal
gymnasium on Wednesday, March
23. The students played with Grand
Ronde Tribal members, staff and
community members.
Indian communities very dramati
cally and practically. You see it.
You're there. You hear firsthand
from real people, not a stream
ing video on the Internet, not a
distance-delivered course, or a
textbook. You" hear from the Tribal
Photos by Michelle Alalmo
Tribal member Jan Michael Looking Wolf
Reibach sings as Oregon State University
students taking part in an Ethnic Studies
course listen during a class In Grand Ronde
on Wednesday, March 23. In addition to
singing, Reibach talked to the students about
what it means to be a Native American in the
21st century.
communities and Tribal members
what their issues are and their
interactions with other communi
ties." For Megan O'Quin, Oregon State's
Athletic Academic counselor for
football and gymnastics athletes,
"Not many people have the chance
to learn about this very important
piece of our country. The students
take away more than just learn
ing about a culture. They have an
opportunity to look at themselves
and reflect."
The course took students to Siletz
Country on the coast on Monday
and Tuesday, March 21-22, and to
Grand Ronde on March 23-24.
Tribal member Brent Merrill
helped put the class together for
Peters and lectured as well. He
currently owns his own public rela
tions consulting firm.
Students met at the Hatfield Ma
rine Science Center on the coast as
well as at Grand Ronde and Siletz
Tribal offices.
This year, Riley recommended
T - . - . r...
Tribal member and
Education Division Manager
April Campbell, left, and
Scholarship Coordinator
Luhui Whitebear, right, gifts
a Pendleton blanket to Kurt
Peters (BlackfeetPowhatan),
a professor in the Ethnic
Studies Department at
Oregon State University, to
m honor his years of work with
Oregon Tribes and Native
American studies during
an OSU Ethnic Studies class
that took place at the Tribal
Adult Education Building on
Wednesday, March 23. Peters
is retiring this year.
Sherman Alexia's "The
Absolutely True Diary Of
A Part-Time Indian" as
required reading for the
In Grand Ronde, Trib
al member and Native
American Music Awards
Artist of the Year Jan
Michael Looking Wolf
Reibach talked about
what it means to be a Na
tive American in the 21st
Afterwards, the group
honored Peters, who is
retiring this year, with a
Tribal blanket, cake and
party. Reibach sang one
of his own songs for Pe
ters, "If Just One of Us,"
and said it also referred
to Peters' belief in his stu
dents. At noon Wednesday, stu
dents and athletes dropped
into the Tribal gym for a
pickup basketball game
with Grand Ronde Tribal
members, staff and com
munity members. Tribal
Elder and Recreation Co-
ordinator Alton Butler
The group honored Chinook
Winds Casino's General Manager
Sar Richards (Siletz), presenting
him with a picture of his ancestor,
John Collins, who was the first
Native graduate at Oregon State
Grand Ronde Tribal Elder Bob
Tom spoke and offered invoca
tions and blessings for the classes.
Rounding out the Grand Ronde
segment, Tribal member and Edu
cation Division Manager April
Campbell, Scholarship coordinator
Luhui Whitebear (Coastal Band
Chumash), Tribal member and
Cultural Protection Coordinator
Eirik Thorsgard, Tribal member
and Web designer Willie Mercier,
who took a course from Peters last
year, and Tribal Elder Jan Reibach
participated with their various
"It's more than I expected," said
freshman safety Ryan Murphy, who
is from Oakland, Calif. "Culturally,
the Tribal community is way dif
ferent from mainstream culture.
Tribal people care for each other.
They're more united."
Murphy complimented Peters
for encouraging class members to
express themselves on the subject
before visiting the Tribes to con
trast that with what they'd learned
after visiting.
Sophomore Theo Limlengco of
Portland called the class "an op
portunity that we never get, to meet
with Elders and Tribal community
members. It opened my eyes to a
whole new culture."
Interdisciplinary graduate stu
dent Christopher DeMarre said the
Tribal community "is something
everybody should see. It's kind of
like the invisible culture."
The content of the class changes
each year, said Peters, and that "is
what makes it unique." D