November 28, 2008

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LEWISBURG, Pa. — Citizen Potawatomi Nation historian Jerry Lewis will focus on the significance of Native American history in the region with two discussions at Bucknell University.

The first, "Living Traditions: Native Americans and the Susquehanna Valley – The Conestoga Creek Massacre and its Significance," begins at 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 1, in the Gallery Theatre of the Elaine Langone Center at Bucknell.

The second, "Living Traditions: Native Americans and the Susquehanna Valley – The Susquehanna Valley's Heritage Across a Continent: A Potawatomi Perspective," will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 2, at 5 p.m. in the Gallery Theatre of the Elaine Langone Center.

Both talks, which are free to the public, are part of the University's Focus Year series, "Cultures at the Confluence: Environmental Humanities and the Susquehanna Valley."

Potawatomi Citizens Nation elder
"Lewis is an elder and tribal historian of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation," said Alf Siewers, assistant professor of English and coordinator with the Environmental Humanities Initiative at Bucknell.

"His talks will offer insights from a broader context into history of this watershed that many here have attempted to erase or forget, from a perspective that often is not heard at Bucknell and other venues today in central Pennsylvania, but which is crucial to understanding the dynamics of the valley as a cultural region, and its relation to the continent as a whole.

"His talk on Monday will focus on the notorious Conestoga massacre in the Susquehanna watershed as setting the stage for the large-scale attempted genocide of native peoples across the continent and for aggressive anti-Indian racism of Euroamerican culture up to the present day.

"Tuesday's talk will focus on perceptions of the culture of the Delaware people of this region as ancestor tradition among many Indian peoples elsewhere today, across the Great Lakes and Great Plains," said Siewers.

Noted educator
A former research fellow at the D'Arcy McNickle Center for Indian History at the Newberry Library, cultural diversity manager at Chicago's South Suburban College, and instructor on Native American history at Governors State University in Illinois, Lewis recently was honored by having the Potawatomi Citizens national library in Oklahoma named for him.

His life work on Algonquin Indian history, culture, language and tribal education uniquely qualifies him to speak on the perceived significance of the Susquehanna Valley to Native Americans across many tribal backgrounds within the Algonquin cultures.

He struggled to understand his Indian background and identity while growing up amid ancestral lands of his people on the hardscrabble South Side of Chicago, playing as a child in the old Stockyards there, then serving as a Marine, doing graduate work in Indian history at Penn State, and becoming an award-winning teacher of low-income bilingual students in the Chicago area.

For more information about the University Focus Year program, visit

Contact: Division of Communications