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Ethan Clapsaddle, Class of 2017

Why did you choose KU’s Indigenous Studies Program?
I chose KU because of the Museum Studies aspect of the program, as well as the diverse topics and people the INS program would allow me to learn more about. [Ed. note: Indigenous Studies was forEthan Clapsaddle and his master's exam committee (l to r): Dr. Michael Zogry, Dr. Peter Welsh, Ethan Clapsaddle, and Dr. Stephanie Fitzgerald.merly called Indigenous Nations Studies, and it included tracks.] My family also had connections to Haskell and Lawrence so we decided to move out to Kansas and make an adventure out of it. 

What was your main focus of research/academic interest?
My main focus was on tribal museums and how they can serve as the communal hub for tribal communities in the fight for cultural preservation and community development. I specifically looked at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, North Carolina, and how it utilizes tribal oral traditions, community guidance, diverse academic disciplines, and cultural principles to perpetuate the culture, history, and stories of the Kituwah people.

How are you using that research and the skills gained through the Indigenous Studies Program now?
I currently oversee the Youth Leadership Development Program for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. We have developed a culturally based leadership program where we aim to develop stronger tribal leaders who are grounded in their culture and have a stronger sense of tribal identity. I have also been heavily involved in program development and strategic planning for the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in a variety of roles.  

You took a few years off before coming back for your master’s. What led you to want to finish?
It took me some time to complete my graduate work. I took some time off after completing my course work and the thesis portion seemed to take a back seat to life. I joined the Army as a commissioned officer and moved around for close to five years. I deployed to Afghanistan, where I served with the 65th Combat Engineer Battalion. Completing my graduate work was always lingering and I decided after coming back home from deployment and returning to Cherokee that I wanted to finish up for me and my family.      

Let’s look ahead a bit. What are your goals for the future?
My goals for the future are to help develop the sense of cultural identity within the young people and our tribal community as a whole. I hope to do this through program development that focuses on multi-generational exposure to all aspects of the Kituwah culture that gives our participants a heightened sense of responsibility to our communities, traditions, and tribe. 

You’re from the same town as Micah Swimmer, another ISP student. How do you know each other? Have you helped push each other to finish your degrees?
Micah and I are both from Cherokee. He is an awesome guy who is doing amazing work on the language preservation front at the tribe's language immersion school, the New Kituwah Academy. Micah and I are "partners in crime" with coaching boys' basketball here in Cherokee. We both have 9-year-old boys that are key players on our team. We approach our team like family, where we focus on not just coaching basketball but building a sense of brotherhood and incorporating as much culture and language into our practices and games as we can. Along the way, Micah and I have become very close friends and we talk almost every day about any and everything. We both pushed each other to finish our thesis work and stayed after each other with encouragement and support.

We heard something about a road trip with you and Micah on your way to your master’s defenses. Is there a fun story in how you both got to Lawrence to defend your projects?
We made an awesome road trip out to Kansas for our thesis defenses. We loaded up our families and went down to Henryetta, Oklahoma, for an all-Native basketball tournament. Our boys finished third out of nine teams, and we were the youngest team in the division. We left the tournament and made our way to Kansas for our defenses. We had an awesome week with friends, family, basketball – and we both wrapped it up with a successful thesis defense. It was an unbelievable journey.       

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Local Events

American Indian Cultural Festival
Sunday, September 16 | 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Celebration of the art, dance, and music of American Indians from regions across the country
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
4525 Oak St., Kansas City, MO
Events are free and open to the public

Visiting Lecture and Discussion: "Following the Pathways of my Ancestors: Living Ancestral Geographies in Aotearoa, New Zealand"
Dr. Naomi Simmonds, lecturer with the Faculty of Maori and Indigenous Studies, and senior researcher with Te Kotahi Research Institute, at the University of Waikato
Monday, September 17 | Noon-1 p.m.
Parker Hall 110, Haskell Indian Nations University
Open to students, faculty and staff

Natives @ KU Kickoff
Tuesday, September 18 | 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Rice Room, 5th floor of Green Hall (Law School)
University of Kansas
Free taco bar; RSVP to nfsc@ku.edu by September 4
Open to all Native KU faculty, staff and students

"Rhetorical Practices in Indigenous Museums"
Skype Q&A with Dr. Lisa King, assistant professor at the University of Tennessee
Wednesday, September 19 | 3 p.m.
Kansas Room, Kansas Union
University of Kansas
Free and open to all KU and Haskell faculty, staff and students
Sponsored by the Museum Studies Program

"Warrior Women" Film Screening & Q&A with director/producer Elizabeth Castle and activist Madonna Thunder Hawk
Part of the Free State Festival
Wednesday, September 19 | 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Lawrence Arts Center
940 New Hampshire St., Lawrence, KS
Tickets are $8

Visiting Lecture and Discussion: "Setting a Tribal Research Agenda"
Prof. Ed Galindo, faculty member at the University of Idaho and associate director for education and diversity for the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium
Thursday, September 20 | 7 p.m.-8 p.m.
Burge Union Forum AB, University of Kansas
Open to students, faculty and staff

Keeping Legends Alive
Friday and Saturday, September 21-22
Celebration of the dedication of the U.S.'s first WWI memorial, Haskell Stadium and Memorial Arch, dedicated in 1926
The weekend's activities will include a powwow, educational workshops, campus tours, children's activities, a family fun run, and much more.
Haskell Indian Nations University
155 Indian Ave., Lawrence, KS
Free and open to the public
Volunteers needed! Sign up to volunteer on Saturday, September 22

"Mankiller" Film Screening and Q&A with filmmaker Valerie Red-Horse
Part of the Free State Festival
Friday, September 21 | 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
Haskell Indian Nations University Auditorium
155 Indian Ave., Lawrence, KS
Free and open to the public

"Peacemaking in Indian Country" with Prof. Shawn Watts
Monday, October 8 | Noon-1 p.m.
Big XII Room, Kansas Union
University of Kansas
Light refreshments provided
Open to all faculty, staff and students
Sponsored by the KU Office of the Provost

Indigenous Peoples Day Conference: "Indigenous Female Leadership: Disrupting dominant discourses"
Monday, October 8 | 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Kansas State Student Union
918 N. 17th St.
Manhattan, KS
Features keynotes by Elizabeth Kronk Warner, J.D., KU Law; Dr. Robin Zape-Tah-Hol-Ah Minthorn, University of New Mexico; Dr. Maggie Walter, University of Tasmania and Oz to Oz Fulbright Scholar; and screening and discussion of Warrior Women
Free, but registration required. Livestreaming available.

Haskell Fall Welcome Back Powwow
Saturday, October 13 | Grand entry 6 p.m.
Haskell Indian Nations University Powwow Grounds
155 Indian Ave., Lawrence, KS
Open to the public

Watch Party: Episode 1 of Native America, "From Caves to Cosmos"
PBS documentary series
Tuesday, October 23 | 8 p.m.-9 p.m.
Traditions Area, main lobby of the Kansas Union
University of Kansas

Watch Party: Episode 2 of Native America, "Nature to Nations"
PBS documentary series
Tuesday, October 30 | 8 p.m.-9 p.m.
Traditions Area, main lobby of the Kansas Union
University of Kansas

Watch Party: Episodes 3 and 4 of Native America, "Cities of the Sky" and "New World Rising"
PBS documentary series
Tuesday, November 13 | 8 p.m.-10 p.m.
Traditions Area, main lobby of the Kansas Union
University of Kansas

Honoring Our Warriors Powwow
Saturday, November 17 | Grand entries at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Coffin Sports Complex, Haskell Indian Nations University
155 Indian Ave., Lawrence, KS
Open to the public

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