Students took the spotlight during a forum at the 3rd annual Southeast Indian Studies Conference at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
The conference on April 12 - 13 was attended by more than 100 at UNCP’s Regional Center.
Rocky Locklear, gesturing, answers a question during the student panel at the SE Indian Studies Conference. From left: Lauren Locklear, Dr. Jane Haladay, Rocky Locklear, Mara Locklear and Kindra Locklear.
The final panel was comprised of four Lumbee students who discussed the novel “Faces in the Moon” by Betty Louise Bell. Their literary analysis resulted from an assignment in their American Indian Studies literature class with Dr. Jane Haladay.
“The panel presentations evolved from a class assignment,” Dr. Haladay explained. “I had some incredible work that I felt would benefit from wider exposure.”
The presentations were inspired and often personal. Each student focused on an aspect of the book that had personal or cultural meaning.
For American Indian Studies major Kindra Locklear, dreams as a cultural phenomenon was the subject of her presentation.
“Being a Lumbee, dreams are important to us,” Locklear said. “We have meanings for different types of dreams and how they relate to our lives.”
After listening to Locklear’s paper, one audience member, during the question and answer session, suggested that she consider expanding the idea of dreams in Lumbee culture into a future dissertation.
For elementary education major Rocky Locklear, it was the balance between selflessness and selfishness.
“The ideas in this book allowed me to understand the nature of protective selfishness and the need for self-interest,” he said. “I wrote this from personal experience. I want to shape my identity with self-interest not selfishness.”
Rocky discussed the prejudice that many Lumbee people, especially men, face when they decide to go to college.
“Our own people say, ‘You’re trying to be white.’ I’m not trying to be white, I’m just trying to take the next step and get an education,” Locklear said.
His remarks received spontaneous applause from the audience.
Lauren Locklear studied the Native American story-telling traditions in the novel.
“In the book, the Cherokee keep their tribe alive through stories,” Locklear said. “There are traditions told among the Lumbee as well. Sometimes word of mouth takes you farther than the written word.”
Mara Locklear said she struggled with the assignment and re-wrote her paper for the conference. The book and the assignment were revealing for her.
“This was not just a paper; we really enjoyed Dr. Haladay’s class,” Locklear said. “After this class, I can say that I’m proud to be a member of the Lumbee Tribe.”
It was the second presentation for Kindra, Lauren and Rocky Locklear. The first was at the Native American Literature Symposium (NALS) in Michigan last March.
“This group continues to meet, and I would love to see their writings published as a collection in some way,” Dr. Haladay said. “It has transformed the class into a community of scholars.”
The Southeast Indian Studies Conference was attended by scholars and students from across the U.S., including Michael Osbourne, a graduate student from UCLA.
“I traveled a long way to attend this conference, and I was very excited to come,” he said. “We don’t have many American Indians in our program from the Southeast, so I’m trying to interest students in our program.”
Conference coordinator Dr. Stan Knick, interim chair of UNCP’s American Indian Studies Department, said he was pleased by the attendance and variety and quality of presentations over the two-day conference.
“I believe we’ve had a very productive two days,” Dr. Knick said. “You can see why we are especially proud of our own students.”
After reviewing the conference evaluation forms turned in by those in attendance, Dr. Linda Oxendine noted that the UNCP student panel was a favored event.