By Caitlin Burke
Salisbury University is participating in its fifth annual Native American Heritage Month.
SU graduate and program director Celine Carayon, Ph.D. recently gave a lecture on “Pipelines, Mascots and Recognition: The Internationalization of Indigenous Rights Movements.”
Native American Heritage Month takes place in November and was originally implemented in 1990 by President George H. W. Bush.
Carayon’s interest in Native studies first began in college.
“My personal interest in Native studies sparked from my Ph.D. in early American history, which I obtained from the College of William and Mary in 2010,” Carayon said. “I quickly realized that colonial history could not be studied without ‘Indians,’ and my scholarship has since then focused on relations and communication between Natives and Europeans in the 16th to 18th centuries.”
Carayon arrived to SU in 2012 and began teaching classes with a focus in Native studies. “I had the opportunity to revitalize this month of celebration of indigenous cultures and peoples,” Carayon said. The lectures and presentations pertaining to Native American Heritage Month are sponsored by the Fulton Public Humanities Program.
The lecture highlights the conflict in the opposition of the Standing Rock Reservation Sioux Nation, and the various federal and private interests involved in the building of the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois.
“My talk introduces the audience to the complexity of this current event, and puts in perspective with the recent history of indigenous rights movement,” Carayon said. “Its connection to environmental activism explains why this is part of a global fight by indigenous peoples around the world to regain respect and rights from neocolonial governments.”
Carayon shared that students on the Eastern Shore get little exposure to Native cultures.
“It’s ironic because there are still several active tribes right here at our doorstep in Crisfield and Millsboro, Delaware.” Carayon said. “They have a very interesting history that is part of the making of America.”
Carayon hopes these lectures and presentations positively impact the SU community and students on the knowledge and power Native Americans bring to our culture.
“It is part of the SU mission, and a very important priority for the history department, to promote sensitivity to cultural diversity on our campus,” Carayon said. “Native Americans, like other minorities in the United States today, are facing tremendous issues [poverty, unemployment, crime, police violence, racism], but are largely invisible to most of the public.”
The message of this lecture holds power, strength and the ability to present a new perspective to the community. “We think that bringing attention to their rich pasts, their tremendous cultural richness and contributions to America is enough,” Carayon said. “But the inspirational resilience of their peoples can also invite people to recognize the cost of colonialism.”