BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Among indigenous peoples across America and
Canada there is outrage and a strong activist movement provoked by
what they consider the destructive ongoing violations of the 400
year-old Two Row Wampum-Belt Treaty by American and Canadian
governments and entities protected by them – violations
Native Peoples say threaten not only indigenous health and culture
but life on earth.
“Decolonization through Tradition,” the ninth annual
American Studies Storytellers Conference, to be held April 12-13 at
the University at Buffalo, is presented by the American Studies
Graduate Student Association, Department of Transnational Studies.
Events will include:
Pre-conference potluck dinner and Haudenosaunee social –
April 12, from 6-10 p.m., to be held at the Native American
Community Services of Erie and Niagara Counties, 1005 Grant St.,
Conference –April 13, beginning at 9 a.m. in 120 Clemens Hall
on UB’s North Campus, with keynote address to take place at 1
p.m. Breakfast, lunch and snacks will be provided.
Post-conference dinner – April 13 from 6-10 p.m., to be held
at the Banchetti Banquet Facility and Grove, 550 North French Rod.
Additional registration and program information about
registration is available at: http://gsa.buffalo.edu/AMSGSA/Index.html.
“Our purpose this year,” said conference organizer
Steve Demchak, "is to reinvigorate the vision of peace, power and
righteousness that was so clearly articulated in 1613 by indigenous
and settler peoples with consideration to our future paths and
generations in our respective boats.
“The important thing to recognize is that the Two-Row
Wampum Belt agreement, which was signed in upstate New York, was
founded on mutual respect based on friendship, peace and
acknowledgment of each other’s different traditions so long
as the grass grows, the waters run, the sun rises and Mother Earth
The keynote speaker will be Doug George-Kanentiio, Bear Clan,
Askwesasne Mohawk, founder of the national Native American
Journalists Association, former member of the Board of Trustees of
the National Museum of the American Indian and chair of Round Dance
Productions, a nonprofit educational foundation on Oneida land
dedicated to the preservation of Iroquois culture. He is the
author of many books and articles about native history and current
issues, the latest of which is the book, "Iroquois on Fire: A Voice
from the Mohawk Nation” (2008, University of Nebraska
The conference will also feature dozens of indigenous scholars
from across Canada and the U.S. who will focus on the consequences
of these treaty violations and other problems provoked by
colonialism and the current vigorous attempts by indigenous peoples
to decolonize themselves.
Speakers will address such topics as national identity, oral
traditions, language recovery and vitalization, indigenous
sovereignty, land reclamation and use and environmental restoration
The John Mohawk Legacy Address will be delivered prior to the
post-conference dinner by Rick W. Hill Sr., Beaver Clan, Tuscarora
Nation, Six Nations Grand River Territory.
Hill, a UB MA ’90 in American Studies, has since served as
special assistant to the director for public programs at the
National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. He
now works as senior project coordinator at Deyohahage Indigenous
Knowledge Center at Six Nations Polytechnic, Ohsweken, Ontario.
Demchek says the conference will be held in solidarity with the
Two Row Wampum Belt renewal movement and the Idle No More movement,
the latter founded by the First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples of
Canada in response to a number of Canadian legislative omnibus
bills, particularly the notorious Bill C-45, which they say
threatens the continuation of our ecosystem and future
As it has every year for the past nine years, the conference
continues to honor its founders: the award-winning scholar author,
editor, conflict negotiator and champion of the rights of
indigenous peoples John Mohawk, PhD, and nationally known activist,
well-loved teacher and scholar Barry White, both of whom were
members of the Turtle Clan of the Seneca Nation of Indians and both
of whom taught for many years in the UB Department of American
Studies, which White helped to found.