MU student shares personal heritage at Native American event
HUNTINGTON — Marshall University sophomore Autumn Lee wasn’t just participating in a history or cultural lesson during a luncheon celebrating Native American Heritage Month in the Memorial Student Center Tuesday morning.
Lee, a political science major from Beaver Creek, Ohio, was sharing a part of her personal life as a Native American when she organized the event and subsequently was part of a dance demonstration during the event.
Lee spent her formative years in the Six Nations reserve in Ontario, Canada, home to more than 12,000 members of the Iroquois nation, and she recently was crowned Miss Indian Defense League of America.
The league was established in 1926 in an effort to guarantee unrestricted passage on the continent of North America for Indian people, according to the league’s website.
It was earning the title of Miss I.D.L.A. that inspired her to create Tuesday’s event on campus.
“I wanted to have a Native American event that people could come to and learn about where we come from, learn about the culture and keep our heritage alive,” Lee said. “I hope people get to see the culture in a new light, in a positive light, and get a better understanding about us as a people.”
More than 100 people came to the event to see the dance demonstrations as well as a keynote address from Wilton Bomberry, a member of the Bear Clan on the Tuscarora Reservation in Niagra County, N.Y.
Bomberry talked about Native American culture, including laws, philosophies and social standards within his nation.
Bomberry has traveled throughout the eastern United States teaching Native American culture, and he said he often is surprised by what he hears.
“I am often amazed that there are people who think we still live in tipis,” Bomberry said. “There are even some who think we are all dead because of what they’ve read in textbooks or heard from their teachers. I don’t get upset. I look at that as a teaching opportunity, a way to help people learn.”
Native American Heritage Month continues throughout November. For more information, visit http://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov.