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Admyering the view: A lesson in culture

Learning about American Indians a fascinating experience

 by Amanda L. Myers  published on Thursday, April 21, 2005

Myers/issues/arts/693006
Myers
 

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Four months ago, I knew surprisingly little about American Indians.

I've lived in Arizona for 15 years and despite the abundance of tribes here, I never took interest in American Indian culture or history.

That's why I didn't know what I know now.

What made the difference was one class, American Indian history taught by Dr. Joyce Kievit.

Taking a history class is a requirement for my degree and I also need a culture credit. American Indian history covers both bases and will allow me to graduate on time.

But I never expected to enjoy the class so much. When fellow students asked me what classes I was taking this semester and I listed American Indian history as one of them, many rolled their eyes or voiced a worried, "Eeee."

But, the class is my favorite this semester and one of the best I have taken in four years at ASU.

And the explanation for that is simple.

I am learning about something that surrounds me, yet about which I know very little.

There are 22 American Indian tribes in Arizona, tons of American Indian cultural events going on throughout the year and ruins and monuments are scattered throughout the state.

As a journalist, I have had to interview tribes for various reasons, yet I never really understood where they were coming from. Like many ASU students, misconceptions about and even stereotypes of American Indians existed where knowledge didn't.

It's this misunderstanding that is off-putting for many American Indian students on campus, of which there are about 1,300. Those students and their struggles are the topic of this week's cover article, "Knowing their roots" on page 6.

Writer Katie Kelberlau talks to ASU students and officials who explain that life on campus for American Indians who are from reservations often can be difficult because of stereotypes.

So it's important for those students in the majority to keep that in mind.

American Indian culture and history is more than teepees and moccasins, more than kind braves and savage warriors. Check your stereotypes and misconceptions at the door and make an effort to learn more about American Indian culture.

If you don't want to take a class, now is the perfect time to gain some knowledge. This week is Native American Culture Week at ASU and there are tons of events going on.

It won't happen again until next year, so take advantage and stop by Hayden Lawn for food, fashion shows and other cultural activities.



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