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Students host Native Appreciation Day

Students from the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Native Voices group will host a day-long event meant to develop strong connections between higher education and the Native American/First Nations indigenous populations by setting aside a day on campus that focuses on their culture and traditions.

The group will host the Fourth Annual Native Appreciation Day from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 16, in Wieden Hall. All interested students, faculty, staff, and members of the general public are welcome to attend and participate in this free event, which is being supported by Project Compass.

About 150 people attended the first year’s event, and about 400 attended the event in 2010. Nicholas Paul, spokesperson for Native Voices, said the student group is hoping to see the event continue to grow this year and that organizers are pleased to include the addition of a competition powwow to the day’s activities.

Native Appreciation Day was conceived in late 2007 by David Perley, a councilor with the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, and a lecturer for the University of Maine, the University of New Brunswick, and St. Thomas University. Native Voices since has carried on the tradition.

The event will serve as a way for the University and the Native communities to meet, mingle and learn, and will include a basket making demonstration by Donna Sanipass from 10 a.m. to Noon, storytelling with John Bear Mitchell from 2-3:30 p.m., and traditional social dances during the day with Brenda Lazado.

An afternoon and evening of traditional dancing competitions begins at Noon with a Grand Entry and Opening Ceremonies. Registration for the dancing begins at 9:30 a.m. Dance categories include: Senior Women, Senior Men, Junior Girls, Junior Boys, Teen Girls, Teen Boys, Women and Men. All of these categories will have separate Traditional and Fancy/Jingle competitions. There also will be a Tiny Tots category for the youngest participants.

Following dinner, which is being sponsored by Project Compass and Native Voices, tie breaker competitions will be held and prizes will be awarded.

All are invited to attend this free event and this unique opportunity to see traditional Native dancing. For more information about this event or Native Voices, contact Myrth Schwartz at 768-9792.