Native Americans celebrate culture

Helena Rodriguez

“Honoring Our Past, Present and Future” is the theme for Native American Awareness Week that kicks off at Eastern New Mexico University on Monday, April 12.
The third annual Fashion Show & Banquet and a first time Royalty Day featuring Native American queens from around the Southwest, will highlight this year’s events, which began Monday with an official proclamation by Mayor Pro Tem Donald K. Shafer at noon on Monday at the Veteran’s Memorial.
Banquet speakers will include Fred S. Vallo, governor of the Acoma Pueblo, and Joe Shirley Jr., the outspoken president of the Navajo Nation in Arizona.
“During Native American Awareness Week, we hope that people will acknowledge us as we share our culture with everyone. It would be nice for people to take part as we celebrate our past, present and future,” said Utahna Livingston, student director for Native American Affairs.
Another highlight is Royalty Day. Some of the local school children will attend this event on Friday, April 16, which will feature six or seven Native American royalty coming from Utah, the Zuni Pueblos and Navajo.
“The royalty will give presentations about their tribes and show their talents, such as weaving,” Livingston said. Miss Native American ENMU, Dwan Martinez, will be present, along with Miss Eastern Navajo, Fern Spencer of Crown Point.
During the fashion show, which will be featured during the Thursday night banquet, ENMU students will model a variety of traditional Native American attire. On the night of the banquet, the first Rayla Parraz Scholarship will also be awarded to two students. “Parraz was a good friend and an ENMU student who died last September in a car accident. She was not Native American, but she helped us with everything, so we wanted to do something to honor her memory,” Livingston said. A number of other awards will be given to graduating Native American students and students who have excelled in their discipline.
Other events during Native American Awareness Week will include showings of the movies, “Wind-Talkers” and “Self Esteem for Native Americans” throughout the day on Wednesday, April 14, inside of Ground Zero.