Ceremony Planned Oct. 22 to Retire Native American Nicknames

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

Sept. 1, 2004 – A ceremony to retire the Native American “Indians” and “Otahkians” nicknames at Southeast Missouri State University is planned for Oct. 22 on campus.

The ceremony, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. in front of Academic Hall, will include flute music by Native American musician Bill Miller, starting at 5:15 p.m. from the steps of Academic Hall. Miller is a Mohican Indian from northern Wisconsin who has long been one of the most admired figures in the Native American music arena and beyond. He is an award-winning recording artist, having won five Native American Music Awards. A performer, songwriter, activist and painter, Miller’s music blends the Native American and western folk/blues traditions. His newest album is titled “Spirit Rain.”

As a part of the retirement program, Miller will present a free concert of his music at 8 p.m. in Academic Auditorium.

During the ceremony, Dr. Ed Leoni, professor of health, human performance and recreation, will serve as emcee, introducing an honor guard of Native American veterans and Southeast ROTC members, who will present the colors side-by-side in both the Native American and traditional military formats. The program also will include a presentation about the University’s history and pride as “Indians” and Otahkians.”

The keynote speaker will be Carol Spindel, author of Dancing at Halftime, a book that takes readers on a journey through the American imagination, exploring how the country’s thinking about American Indians has been, and is still being, shaped. The book demonstrates Spindel’s determination to understand why her adopted town is so passionately attached to Chief Illiniwek, the American Indian mascot of the University of Illinois. The book has been described as “a work of both persuasion and compassion.”

As part of the program, Board of Regents President Donald L. Dickerson, will read an official retirement proclamation, and Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, will discuss the University’s plans to honor Native Americans and their heritage. Presenting brief remarks will be Native American representatives and Richard Eichorst, a 1956 graduate of Southeast Missouri State and a four-year letterman in basketball.

In case of rain, the ceremony will be held in the University Center Party Room.