CAS Colloquium: Professors explore Native American literature

Four professors explored Native American literature as part of the College of Arts and Sciences Colloquium earlier this month.

Anthropology professor Cory Willmott discusses "The Song of Hiawatha" during the College of Arts and Sciences Colloquium, which was themed "Thinking About the Book."

History professor Rowena McClinton discussed “Minding the Writer’s Spirit,” focusing on the time period of 1805 to 1821. She explored how missionaries such as Anna Rosina Gambold, who lived with the Cherokee, were paid by the government to missionary to Indian tribes.

“[Gambold] does leave us with the living documents, an origin story whose essence survives in the Native American world today,” McClinton said.

Anthropology professor Cory Willmott talked about how “The Song of Hiawatha” has evolved over the years from its beginnings based on stories of Nanabosho, an Ojibwa trickster, to becoming a Walt Disney Film. The story began “permeating pop culture,” according to Willmott.

Philosophy professor Greg Fields discussed books, such as “A Totem Pole History,” that he has worked on with Pauline Hillaire, a member of the Lummi tribe. “A Totem Pole History” looks at the work of Joseph Hillaire, Pauline’s father, as a Coast Salish artist.

Visiting scholar Allison Hedge Coke discussed, among other topics, how the Ojibwa were “very influenced by cranes.” Written language and dances were picked up from cranes.

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