Catching students by surprise, Dr. Anton Treuer began his All-School Meeting (ASM) Speech this week in the Native American language, Ojibwe. Treuer then raised his second finger and highlighted how the audience might have a variety of reactions to what the gesture might mean, ranging from “number one” and “up,” to “I need to use the restroom.”
Treur used this simple example to clarify why people’s competing voices on racial relations and climate change are all “correct.”
In his presentation, Treuer, a professor at the Bemidji State University and an advocate for the preservation and revitalisation of the Ojibwe language, talked in detail about his life and how that has influenced his unique perspectives toward Native Americans in modern society.
Ryan Wheeler, Director of the Peabody Museum, introduced Dr. Treuer and explained why he thought listening to Treuer’s message would benefit the Andover community.
‘‘Last spring I visited the Wide Earth reservation in Minnesota and got invited to the Big Drum ceremony, and Dr. Treuer was leading the ceremony… There, Treuer explained the history of the ceremony as well as the long suppression of Native American religions in the United States that lasted for much of the 20th century. At that moment I realized that we had to connect Dr. Treuer with students at [Andover].’’ said Wheeler.
In an interview with The Phillipian, Treuer said he spoke in many different countries to raise awareness of the misconceptions and lasting discrimination against Native Americans.
“For native people [having just one black teacher] is probably the most common experience. Even the schools on an Indian reservation with 100% native kids usually have almost entirely non-native teachers,” said Treuer.
Attending students were then able to connect with Dr. Treuer and ask him various questions. The back and forth between the students and Treuer touched on topics like the political incorrectness of the term “Indian”, President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration, and the oppression dynamics of today’s society.
Audience members found Truer’s words very revealing about the nature of life as a Native American and appreciated the perspective Truer offered.
Annie Donahue ’18 said, ‘‘I really enjoyed how revealing this presentation was in terms of the modern day life of Native Americans. The examples he gave about his childhood and his life story were very inspiring to me and made me see how sometimes in society there is not enough recognition for the people who really are native for this country.”
One of the issues Truer discussed was how America is not often studied prior to the arrival of the Europeans, which particularly intriguing for Andy Kim ’19.