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Noteworthy

Learning from Native American Legacies & Landmarks

Posted on August 09, 2012

by Campbell Maxey

“I’m all fired up,“ said Robin Bajkiewicz describing her feelings for the upcoming fall semester.

Why the excitement? Bajkiewicz, an adjunct faculty member who teaches U.S. History I and II, was selected to participate in the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) summer workshop, “Legacies and Landmarks of the Plains Native Americans.” Now, she’s excited to incorporate the knowledge she gained at the workshop into her lesson plans for the new academic year.

Held at Central Community College in Columbus, Nebraska in June, Bajkiewicz spent one week with other community college faculty engaged in intensive study and discussions on the history and culture of three Great Plains Native American tribes—the Pawnee, the Ponca and the Omaha.

This workshop examined history from the eighteenth century to the present day of these tribes, whose historic homeland is in the plains of Nebraska. Through historical site visits, scholarly lectures, literature, film, music, art and stories from contemporary tribal leaders, the participants explored three main themes: the culture of these tribes prior to Western expansion; interventions by the U.S. government leading to dispossession, reservations and Indian schools; and current tribal structure and efforts to preserve cultural identity.
Limited to fifty participants, Bajkiewicz joined educators from across the country representing a variety of teaching disciplines that included English, anthropology, archaeology, history, humanities, sociology, religion, and philosophy.

It was those diverse viewpoints along with small group interactions with workshop faculty, particularly tribal leaders and the authors of the workshop’s required reading material, that lead to the greatest insights into the Native American experience. For example, by meeting and listening to stories from tribal members, Bajkiewicz gained valuable insight into the modern lives of Native Americans—a new perspective to share with her students.

Thrilled to earn a spot in this NEH workshop, Bajkiewicz is just as excited to have new material and resources for her U.S. History courses.

Learn more about NEH education programs at www.neh.gov/divisions/education.

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