GLT Datebook: Listening To Native Voices | WGLT

GLT Datebook: Listening To Native Voices

Jan 18, 2019

A new exhibit at IWU’s Ames Library allows a comprehensive look into the lives of Native Americans, exploring the connections between wellness and cultural life.

Utilizing the great Native tradition of oral history, “Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness” examines health and medicine among contemporary American Indians, Alaska natives and Native Hawaiians. The show uses interviews, artwork and interactive media to explore the traditions of Native people.

It’s up at Ames Library through Feb. 14. It’s a joint exhibit from the American Library Association and The National Library of Medicine. 

The exhibit fits in well at the University because it’s interdisciplinary, said University Librarian Karen Schmidt.

"We have a lot of students who are pre-med or in the School of Nursing, so the connection for them seemed really strong for us," she said.

The exhibition also has something to offer those interested in art, anthropology and history. 

Meg Miner is the university archivist and special collections librarian.

“The bulk of the exhibit is people telling their stories,” she said, pointing to the row of colorful banners accompanied by an iPad. “So it really is the voices of these people in these communities. What the National Library of Medicine did is curate it around six different themes, including community, nature and healing.” 

Some of the topics the exhibit covers include the role of traditional healing in native American culture today, the relationship of traditional healing and Western medicine in native communities, the role of Native Americans in military service and the healing support for returning veterans and how loss of land impacted the wellness of Native people. 

“In our opening ceremony, our chaplain, Elise Nelson Winger, very poignantly pointed out that the land on which this particular building is on this campus once belonged to Native Americans,” said Schmidt. “And we need to recall that and to honor that and give that space.” 

“I’m very touched with the people who have been coming in to listen who are not Native Americans,” Schmidt added. “They seemed to be called to listen to a different perspective. We’ve invited all of the school districts to come in. There are curriculum plans to go along with this and we’re hoping to see some children in here, too, who will come to understand this whole heritage and how it’s woven into our prairie.” 

There are also associated events to accompany the exhibit, including lessons in the Native American medicine wheel.

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