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Native Americans sponsor programs to dispel stereotypes

In the hope of introducing the University community to American Indian culture and history, the student group, Native Americans at Princeton, the Third World Center and various University departments are sponsoring Native American Day today.

Since there are only 32 American Indians currently enrolled here, the group struggles to remind people of its presence.

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"We hope to make people aware of the Native American tradition," NAAP secretary Amanda Colegrove '00 said. "There are not many Native Americans here, and it's hard for people to know what's going on and who we are."

NAAP member Micah Treuer '01 said he hopes Native American Day will "broaden awareness, dispel myths and make (Native Americans) more visible on this campus."

"We want everyone to know that the Native American tradition is as much a part of American society as the European tradition," he added.

This year, the sponsors are bringing in a storyteller and a poet/musician in order to encourage a wider audience to attend. Both presentations are open to the public and free of charge.

Storyteller, poet

Harold Littlebird, a Native American storyteller, will give his performance at 2:30 p.m. in Bowl 2 at the Wilson School. In the evening, Joy Harjo, a renowned Native American poet, will perform with her band, Poetic Justice, at the TWC at 8 p.m.

Treuer, an Ojibwa from Minnesota, said that Harjo's rock music expounds traditional themes while dispelling stereotypes of Native Americans.

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"(The NAAP) didn't want to deal so much with mystical ideas about Native Americans," Treuer said. "We wanted to stay away from images like Indians in tepees, smoking the peace pipe and banging drums." American Indians, unlike other ethnic groups on campus, do not have their own faculty administrator, according to Colegrove, a Hupa from northern California.

She said she was concerned about the future of the NAAP after the current officers graduate.

However, Colegrove said that the lack of publicity has not hurt her experience as a Native American at the University, which "was not any worse than I expected." She added that she was proud of her heritage, though she wants people to know that, "Native Americans today are not the same as they were 100 or 150 years ago."

Treuer described his experience at Princeton as "odd," adding that he "felt separated from cultural ideas and my identity." However, he noted that the existence and activities of the NAAP have been very helpful in maintaining his sense of identity.

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