Student Affairs Dedicates Arkansas Native American Exhibit on March 6
The Arkansas Native American exhibit stretches across a hallway on the 4th floor of the Arkansas Union.
Arkansas Native Americans is a new, permanent exhibit on the fourth floor of the Arkansas Union. On Monday, March 6, from 3-4:30 p.m. the exhibit will be dedicated during a ceremony hosted by the Division of Student Affairs. The dedication ceremony will be broadcast live on the division's Facebook page.
The dedication will take place directly in front of the exhibit, and a reception with refreshments will immediately follow in the Anne Kittrell Art Gallery.
Remarks will begin at 3:30 p.m. and will be made by Charles Robinson, vice chancellor for the Division of Student Affairs; George Sabo, director of the Arkansas Archeology Survey; and Joseph Steinmetz, chancellor of the University of Arkansas. Student members of the Native American Student Association will also make cultural presentations to honor the tribes represented in the exhibit.
The exhibit, designed by Todd and Tracy Johnson of Circa Digital Group, provides information, images, and history of five native tribes found in the Arkansas region — Caddo, Quapaw, Osage, Tunica, and Cherokee. Information on 19th century Indian removal includes information on Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek tribes who were forced to travel across Arkansas to reach the newly created Indian Territory.
The multi-panel display details elements of Native American lives, cultures, and present-day activities. Display cases on either end of the installation feature artifacts and real-life examples of Native American crafts, tools, and other elements, and are up to 800 years old.
George Sabo, director of the Arkansas Archeology Survey, assisted in the production of the exhibit, developing the content from information and illustrations graciously offered by members of the Caddo, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Osage, Quapaw, and Tunica-Biloxi communities in Oklahoma and Louisiana, in addition to information supplied by the campus Native American community.
"The exhibit is an important celebration of the culture and heritage of the campus Native American community, and their ongoing activities, consistent with Chancellor Steinmetz's efforts to recognize and enrich campus diversity and inclusion," Sabo said.
Olivia Morgan, president of the Native American Student Association, said she and her fellow students are excited to participate in the exhibit dedication.
"Native Americans are generally underrepresented in general, so it is very refreshing that the University of Arkansas has added a permanent display to show homage to the original tribes that resided here in Arkansas," Morgan said.
"Many students on campus are not aware of the rich history we have here in Arkansas," Morgan added. "Not only is it important for students to know about our past, but also be reminded that these tribes, along with hundreds of other tribes, are still in existence today. This is a step towards a better understanding of Native American culture and the people who are apart of it."
To Charles Robinson, vice chancellor for the Division of Student Affairs, supporting and recognizing underrepresented communities is just another way to forge the way for student success at the university.
"The Division is committed to moving the university's diversity and inclusion efforts forward," Robinson said. "The Arkansas Native Americans exhibit is a way for the Division to recognize Native American history, life, and culture and educate those in our community about the Caddo, Quapaw, Osage, Tunica, and Cherokee tribes."
Along with the development of the project, updates were made to the area surrounding the exhibit in the Arkansas Union. Rob Stagni, director of the Arkansas Union, said the area is now a one-of-a-kind destination in the Union.
"The Arkansas Union is thrilled to house the Arkansas Native Americans display," Stagni said. "The exhibit is bright, informative, honest, and intriguing."
Stagni is hopeful the exhibit, being housed in the Arkansas Union, will draw students and UARK community members into the space so they can learn about the past, present, and future of Native Americans.
"We hope the photos, information, and artifacts engage the community and encourage them to learn more about Arkansas' Native Americans, as well as their influence on our region and our institution," Stagni said.
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