USCL program focuses on Native American studies

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By Jesef Williams

Scholars from throughout the Southeast will gather at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster next week to add new dimensions to the campus' annual Native American Studies Week.

The celebration, which looks at Native American history and culture in this area, will feature speakers from the Catawba Nation, the University of North Carolina, the University of South Carolina and Warren Wilson College.

All events are free and open to the public.

The week kicks off Monday with a Catawba pottery and storytelling demonstration that will offer a snapshot of what's available at the Catawba Cultural Center, said Dr. Stephen Criswell, director of Native American studies at USCL.

"That's a good program for all ages," Criswell said.

On Tuesday, Dr. Patrick Scott, director of Special Collections at USC in Columbia, will facilitate an illustrated lecture about the famed Lewis and Clark expedition in the early 19th century.

That westward journey resulted in some of the first European contact with Native Americans.

This collection features many books and other items that discuss those experiences. The exhibit is already on display in Medford Library and will remain up through the month.

"It's really nice," said library archivist Brent Burgin. "These are wonderful books with incredible illustrations."

Later Tuesday, award-winning scholar Dr. Theda Perdue from UNC will talk about the impact of the Jim Crow laws on Native Americans in the Southeast.

On Thursday, Brooke Harris from the Culture and Heritage Museums in York County will discuss colonial Indian slavery in the Carolinas.

Criswell said the lectures by Perdue and Harris carry much intrigue because many people associate Jim Crow and American slavery with blacks, not Native Americans.

"It's sort of an earlier history I think people aren't quite aware of," Criswell said.

On Friday, April 25, Dr. David Moore from Warren-Wilson College, near Asheville, N.C., will talk about his archaeological work.

Much of his excavation relates to the Catawbas.

The week wraps up with a reception at Chastain Studios on Main Street that will include Catawba language and storytelling, as well as research presentations and an art exhibit by USCL students.

"I think we have a diverse and interesting program with things of all interests," Criswell said. "And it's all free and open to the public."

Schedule of events


– Catawba pottery and storytelling, presented by Keith Brown, 4 p.m., Medford Library 212

– Film: “Smoke Signals,” 5:30 p.m., Medford Library 233


– Lecture: Native American literature, presented by Dr. Jim Charles from USC Upstate, 1 p.m., Bradley Arts and Sciences Building 113

– Exhibit and Reception: Lewis and Clark Expedition, 6:30 p.m., Medford Library



– Lecture: “The Etowah Site,” presented by Dr. Adam King of the S.C. Institute of Archeology, 11 a.m., Medford Library 212

– Lecture: Southeastern Native Americans and Jim Crow, presented by Dr. Theda Perdue of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, 2:30 p.m., Bundy Auditorium



– Lecture: Colonial Indian slavery in the Carolinas, presented by Brooke Harris of the Culture and Heritage Museums in York County,1 p.m., Bradley 113



– Lecture: Catawba Valley Archeology, presented by Dr. David Moore of Warren-Wilson College, 11 a.m., Medford Library 212

– Native American Studies Week reception and a presentation of Catawba language and storytelling by USCL’s Claudia Priest and Beckee Garris of the Catawba Cultural Center, 12 p.m., Chastain Studios, downtown Lancaster

– USCL student research presentations and art exhibit, 2 p.m., Chastain Studios, downtown Lancaster

* The weeklong celebration is organized by USCL’s Native American Studies Program, which is supported by grants from Duke Energy, the National Endowment for the Arts, the S.C. Arts Commission and the S.C. Budget and Control Board.

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or (803) 283-1152