NATIVE AMERICAN HEALTH AND HERITAGE FESTIVAL, NOVEMBER 13 AT UNC PEMBROKE
When Lumbee singer and songwriter Willie Lowery goes to the doctor, he takes with him a list of medications to make sure the doctor is aware of all of his health concerns - high blood pressure, acid reflux and Parkinson's Disease.
"I'm just like everybody else," he said. "Indians all over are concerned about our health and how to get better health care. I want to take care of myself, so I can continue to do what I love most - play the guitar and write songs."
Inspired by the Lowery's example, UNC Pembroke will celebrate Native American Heritage Month with its first Native American Health and Heritage Festival on Thursday, November 13. The festival will include a series of panel discussions, information booths, health screenings and a 7 p.m. concert at Givens Performing Arts Center (GPAC), featuring Native American dancers, singers and musicians performing music ranging from traditional drum-and-rattle to rock-and-roll.
Willie Lowery will be a featured artist, performing with his son, Corey. Other performers include the popular female a cappella trio Ulali, special guests from the "Remember the 60s" musical cast and the Keever's Longhouse Singers. The event is sponsored by UNCP's Office of Student Activities, GPAC, and AT&T, in partnership with The Healing Lodge, Healthkeeperz, Inc., and The Lumbee River Fund.
"We are proud to sponsor this event and want to make it a success," said Dr. Diane O. Jones, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UNCP. "It promises to be a unique and exciting day of health education and entertainment. Everyone is welcome to come and learn more about tackling these health issues and about the impressive array of Native talent from this community."
"We want to let people know what services are available for their health care needs," said Cherry Beasley, Assistant Professor of Nursing, and member of the festival's planning committee. "People shouldn't have to wonder, 'Where do I go if I don't have insurance?' 'How can I get a ride to the hospital?' or 'How do I know if I'm eligible for disability?' If we can answer these questions, we will hopefully save patients and their families a lot of worry, expense and heartache."
Beasley will appear on the festival's "Getting Better Health Care" panel, along with professionals from the Department of Social Services, Social Security Administration and the Council of Government's Area Agency on Aging.
The event seeks to address many health issues in its panel discussions, which will take place beginning at 1:15 p.m. Panel topics include:
Millard Lowry, Executive Director of the Healing Lodge, has steered event organizers towards a more holistic approach to health issues.
"Robeson County is home to an American Indian community with a strong cultural and spiritual base," Lowry said. "Many of our health problems today - especially those that affect younger people, like HIV/AIDS, depression, domestic violence and drug abuse - can be addressed by drawing on our culture. Let's work to heal people before they get sick by changing their attitudes about their health."
The Healing Lodge will be on hand to provide confidential STD and HIV testing, noon through 7 p.m., on the second floor of the UC. Lowry will be a member of the STD/AIDS Prevention panel.
Howard Brooks, President of Healthkeeperz, is also excited about the festival's potential. Healthkeeprz is sponsoring the event by providing health screenings for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, height and weight.
"The key is changing our people's mindset about their health," Brooks said. "It's not just about what medicine to take once you're already sick. We want people to begin thinking about their diet, exercise and to monitor and prevent diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer."
Brooks will also be speaking on the "Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease and Cancer" panel, along with health educator Janie Grimes of the Gibson Cancer Center at Southeastern Regional Medical Center.
Admission to all health fair events during the day is free.
Evening entertainment begins at 7 p.m. in GPAC. The concert line-up includes Ulali, Willie Lowery and Switched, featuring Corey Lowery. Admission to the concert is $5 for adults, and free for youth under 18 and elders over 62. Advanced tickets can be purchased at the GPAC Box Office after November 1, or by calling (910) 521-6361.
CONCERT ARTIST'S BIOGRAPHIES
National recording artists, Ulali consists of three women, Pura Fé (Tuscarora), Soni (Mayan, Apache, Yaqui) and Jennifer (Tuscarora). Founded 15 years ago and known for their unusual harmonies and wide musical range, Ulali has appeared as featured guests on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno." Their recordings have been featured on the Smithsonian's "Folkways" anthologies and on film soundtracks, including the hit film "Smoke Signals" and the Turner documentary series, "The Native Americans." Ulali has shared billings with Sting, Richie Havens, the B-52's, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Neville Brothers. "This concert is a wonderful way to display the terrific talent we have here locally in Robeson County," said Pura Fé, who sings with Ulali and lives in Maxton. Members of the Keever's Longhouse Singers will also perform with Ulali. "We don't need to bring in Natives from other places to celebrate Native culture," she added. "We've got plenty of it right here."
Willie Lowery (Lumbee) has over 40 years of experience as a professional singer, songwriter and guitarist. He has performed with artists such as The Allman Brothers and Clyde McPhatter and has recorded with several musical groups including Plant and See and Lumbee. Lumbee's single "Streets of Gold" reached number one in East Coast markets. Lowery's solo albums include "Proud to be a Lumbee," "A Tribute to Old Main" and "Thunder Beings of Light," all of which he recorded as tributes to his tribe's history and culture. He has performed throughout North Carolina was named "Tarheel of the Week" by the Raleigh News and Observer for his work with Indian youth and his contributions to North Carolina history. He looks forward to playing his original songs and will be joined by his son, Corey, on bass guitar.
Switched is an Atlanta-based quintet with a powerful sound rooted in hard-driving rock-and-roll. Bass guitarist, Corey Lowery, hails from the Lumbee community and was raised in a musical family that includes his father, Willie Lowery, and musicians and songwriters Dustin and Clint Lowery. Lowery joined the band after five years with Stereomud, whose albums "Perfect Self" and "Every Given Moment" were recorded on the Columbia Records label. Switched is working on a new album with Immortal Records, following their 2002 release "Subject to Change." Last year, the group impressed audiences at Ozzfest, the Warped Tour and on MTV and MTV2. They will be performing an acoustic set at the Native American Health and Heritage Festival, showing off their fine musicianship and vocal abilities.
"We hope the concert will encourage a spirit of celebration and attract all ages to the main issue of our community's health," said Malinda Maynor, coordinator of the Lumbee River Fund and a festival co-sponsor. "All of the performers were raised in the Indian community of Robeson County or have strong family connections to it. The audience will see the success our people can accomplish with hard work and persistence. We hope the festival will also allow members of the larger UNCP and non-Native communities to learn more about who we are through entertainment and education."
James Bass, Assistant Director for Student Activities at UNCP, is especially excited about the entertainment portion of the festival. "It promises to be something for everyone, young and old, will find a lot to like in the musical entertainment, even if it's something they've never heard before," Bass said.
Willie Lowery is pleased that the event has become a family affair. "Corey and I played together many years ago. We toured together, and I'm proud that he's carried on his musical career. But what's exciting is that the festival will serve two purposes - educating the people about the importance of their health and entertaining them and letting them enjoy being with one another and celebrating our heritage."
Lumbee River Fund | www.uncp.edu/lumbeeriverfund/