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Gonzaga’s New Native American Studies Program Presents Documentary ‘Maria Tallchief’ Nov. 19

SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University’s new Native American studies program presents a screening of a documentary about trailblazing Native American ballerina “Maria Tallchief” at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 19 in the Jepson Center’s Wolff Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. Sandy Osawa (Makah) created the film and will be on campus to host and discuss Tallchief, her art and her contribution to Indian Country.

The documentary interprets Tallchief (Osage) through her experience as a Native American woman at a time when ballet existed as a predominantly European art. Tallchief’s skill as a ballerina broke down barriers for other Native women and she emerged as the first of four Native American ballerinas who would rise to fame in the mid-20th century.   

Gonzaga’s new Native American Studies program is a 21-credit approved minor open to all Gonzaga undergraduate students. Recognizing there is no single Native American perspective, the multidisciplinary curriculum will create an informed comprehension of Native American sovereignty. The curriculum will integrate many Native American social, cultural and political perspectives.

Homeland is of central importance to Native American cultures. Gonzaga’s location in the midst of ancestral and contemporary Native American communities on the Columbia Plateau provides meaningful context for the program and also offers a natural center from which discussions can originate. 

Laurie Arnold, Ph.D., Directs Program

Laurie Arnold, Ph.D.

Laurie Arnold, Ph.D., who directs the new program, is teaching the introductory Native American Studies course offered this fall as well as two courses in the spring, Indians of the Columbia Plateau and Native American Activism. Arnold is an enrolled member of the Lakes Band of the Colville Confederated Tribes, and grew up in Keller, Wash., on the reservation. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Oregon State University and a Ph.D. in history from Arizona State University. Arnold has previously worked in Chicago at the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies and at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

Arnold has high hopes for the Native American Studies program at Gonzaga.

“Because of its mission, Gonzaga is a perfect place for Native American studies to succeed,” Arnold said. “Social justice is an inherent Native value, and pursuit of social justice is of primary importance to students at Gonzaga.”

Sponsoring the event are the Gonzaga departments of theatre and dance, women’s and gender studies, the Unity Multicultural Education Center, the Academic Vice President’s office, and the College of Arts and Sciences.

For more information, please contact Laurie Arnold via email or at (509) 313-5947.

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