Lights Go Out at Native Speaker Series


Even though the lights were out, the first Native American Speaker Series event still progressed on Sept. 20.

Around 70 guests, including students, faculty, staff and community members gathered in the UC Annex to listen to speakers from Unlocking Silent Histories and to see displays from the Maya Tradition Foundation. However, a campus wide black out that lasted almost a hour caused those plans to be altered.

Women with the Maya Tradition Foundation weaved throughout the event and sold handmade clothing, rugs, jewelry and many more items.

The event began with student Program Leaders Carmen Tzoc Portillo, Carlos Agurtin Vasquez Mendoza and Jose María Vasquez Pérez forming a panel to answer audience questions about their program.

Unlocking Silent Histories is a student ran organization that produces films about culture traditions, heritage and languages of indigenous communities in Guatemala. The program is completely ran by students but founded and overseen by Donna DeGennaro. The students participate in all the aspects of the film, from producing and directing to editing and filming.

At the speaker series, they talked about the troubles and rewards of working in the indigenous communities.

Pérez said that when implementing something new there are always going to be struggles and hesitancy, but over time the communities came to appreciate what they were doing. Madoza and Portilla stated that one of the major purposes of the program was to show that people should not be ashamed because they have a indigenous background.

The panel added that many indigenous languages are dying because the people don’t want to identify with who they really are. They hoped to show idigenous communitoes through film the importance of embracing ones heritage.

When the lights came on they displayed some of the short films. One of the films showed the different weaving styles and techniques.

The next speaker in the Native American Speaker Series will be Tanaya Winder, a writer, poet and educator. It will held in the Moore Hall Auditorium on Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.

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