Frank Little Bear’s Culture

Alexandria Smith, Content Manager

Guest speaker Frank Little Bear exposed common misconceptions surrounding Native American culture in light of discriminatory media representations at the latest Truth Talk lecture series from the Multicultural Education department .

One of many themes that attendees vigorously discussed was the recent decision of the pop band No Doubt to remove its new Wild West-themed music video and issue an apology.  This came as a result of complaint from the Native American community, according to Reuters.

The event focused on the many discriminatory portrals of natives in the American mass media.

“I hope to hit on some of those topics and share our insight from a personal perspective of things that I’ve thought through, from others that I’ve been taught by and learned under, as well as some of things globally dealing with Native America.”

Little Bear also helped attendees explore the history of indigenous people and what it means to be Native American today. Throughout his lecture he mixed traditional elements of Northern Plains Cree dress or regalia, artifacts from different cultures such as the wampum belt of the Seneca tribe, and native philosophy.

“Our culture is very much alive today as it was over a thousand years ago and a lot of people don’t seem to connect those two. So having an opportunity to share that with people is very important,” said Little Bear.

Sophomore communications major Alexis Vaskas was one of many who enjoyed the discussion and the ideals that Little Bear presented.

“It was a really informative and eye-opening experience. I really liked how he talked about everyone being connected as one, just as human beings, like two legged creatures, and I just liked his overall message about helping people no matter who you are, where you come from, your culture,” said Vaskas.

The goal of Little Bear’s Truth Talk was to educate students, staff and the community about native culture during Native American History month, and education is the goal of each event hosted by the department, said Multicultural Student Outreach Coordinator Maria Cabrera.

“I think that this university is in an area that is kind of secluded so, sometimes, even if you go down the street, you might not find some of the things that we can bring on campus because of this office,” Cabrera said. “So, it’s just basically trying to communicate and also trying to listen to some of the things that the audience says about what their perceived notions of these people are. Maybe we change them. Maybe we can enhance them.”

Little Bear hoped to address common stereotypes that people may have about others of by providing personal links.

“If you connect to one person in the audience, that’s great; if you don’t, head onto the next one. But my main thing of what I try to do is I never script anything so that kind of helps. I used to and I found out that I wasn’t connecting to the audience. I was doing what I thought was a great program but people wanted something. So, I go along with my gut when I go into anything – even when doing research on topics and stuff, I try to speak from a personal perspective but also from a perspective of other peoples’ viewpoints that I’ve also spoken to, said Little Bear.

The lecture, “Truth Talks: Frank LittleBear – Being Native American in America,” was presented Nov. 13, from 6 to 8 p.m. in Huntzinger and Alden Trust rooms in the Sandy and Marlene Insalaco Hall. It was the first of two cultural events geared toward Native American culture to commemorate Native American History Month.

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