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Micah Swimmer, Class of 2017

Why did you choose KU’s Indigenous Studies Program?  Micah Swimmer poses with Dr. Stephanie Fitzgerald and Dr. Kelly Berkson, members of his master's exam committee
The main reason I chose KU was because the program had a concentration on Preservation and Management of Indigenous Resources: Language Documentation and Revitalization. [Ed. note: Prior to 2011, ISP was under a different name and included tracks.] After reading the core courses and requirements, I knew that there wasn’t a better place to be than in that program.

What was your main area of research/academic interest?
My main area of research was on the status of various tribes and their languages. I studied the methodologies tribes were using to save their language so that I could return home and do the same. During my time at KU I also became interested in linguistics. I feel that second language learners could benefit tremendously from a solid base of linguistics.      

How are you using that research and the skills gained through the ISP program now?
As of right now, I am developing a curriculum and guide for an adult immersion program. The goal here is to develop as many fluent speakers, or as close to it, as possible so they can teach in our schools, community, and to their families. I have been working with our brothers and sisters from the Department of Cherokee Nation’s Cultural Outreach, as they have an adult apprentice program that is doing really well. We share ideas and practices but continue to work for the main goal, and that is to save our language. We look to start our program this upcoming March.

You took a few years off before coming back for your master’s. What led you to want to finish? What did you do in the interim?
I felt like a cloud of unfinished business was always lingering over my head that was never going away until I finished or at least tried to finish. During my time off I accepted a position as an early childhood supervisor at our Language Immersion School. I wanted to focus on the school and help my second-language learner staff learn the language the best way I knew how.

Let’s look ahead a bit. What are your goals for the future?
My main goal for the future is to run a successful adult immersion program.

You’re from the same town as Ethan Clapsaddle, another ISP master’s student. How do you know each other? Have you helped push each other to finish your degrees?
Yes, Ethan I are great friends. We both have sons who play on the same basketball teams, and Ethan and I coach our boys AAU basketball team. I think it was at a practice I mentioned an assignment, and he said, yeah he’s got one due, too. I asked where he was in school, and he said KU! I immediately said, ‘Me too!’ We looked like two dogs jumping around, but after that we stayed on each other to finish.

We heard something about a road trip with you and Ethan on your way to your master’s defenses? Can you tell me a little about how you got to Lawrence for your defenses?
Every November my family and I travel to Oklahoma to visit the in-laws, and every November my daughter plays in a basketball tournament in Henrietta, Oklahoma, with her cousins from there. My son never gets to play because he doesn’t have any cousins his age that play in the tournament. So, one day, Ethan I were talking about different tournaments we should hit up over break and I mentioned taking our AAU boys to one in Oklahoma. We both agreed that it’d be good for them to play against other competition, so we put the word out to the other boys and we started fund raising. Around that time, we scheduled our defenses to fall right after we were done in Oklahoma. It was a great trip and we enjoyed every minute of it!     


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Local Events

Backyard Bash
Sunday, September 22 | 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
Marvin Grove, backyard of the Spencer Museum of Art
1301 Mississippi St., Lawrence, KS 66045
This is artful celebration of the autumnal equinox, the end of summer and start of fall. Enjoy activities, games and performances that explore nature, culture and the character of our communities. Headlining music act is Bad Alaskan, aka ISP's Alex Kimball Williams, performing a blend of Indigenous, trip-hop, ambient and dance music.
Free and open to the public.

"Think Indigenous: Richard Oakes, Alcatraz and the Red Power Movement"
Lecture by Langston Hughes Professor of ISP candidate, Dr. Kent Blansett
Tuesday, September 24 | 1:30 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art Auditorium 309
Faculty, staff and students encouraged to attend

We-Ta-Se 25th Annual Veteran's Powwow
Saturday, September 28 | Grand entries at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., Traditional supper at 4:30 p.m.
Prairie Peoples' Park, 154th and M Road
Mayetta, KS
All veterans welcome. Free and open to the public.

"Sovereignty of the Soul: Centering the Voices of Native Women" Lecture by Sarah Deer
Tuesday, October 1 | 7:30 p.m.
The Commons, Spooner Hall
University of Kansas campus
Part of the Humanities Lecture Series

KU Indigenous Peoples' Day Celebrations
Keynote Speaker, Congresswoman Sharice Davids
Tuesday, October 8 | 6:00 p.m.
Woodruff Auditorium, Kansas Union
University of Kansas campus

Indigenous Women of Art Exhibit
October 8-27
Spencer Museum of Art
University of Kansas campus

Native American Leadership Symposium
Hosted by KU Admissions
Thursday, October 10 | 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Kansas Union
University of Kansas

Indigenous Animated Short Films Screening
Thursday, October 10 | 7 p.m.
Lied Center Pavilion

All events are free and open to the public.

K-State Indigenous Peoples Day Conference: "Asserting Sovereignty: Innovations and Battlegrounds"
Monday, October 14 | 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
K-State Student Union, Manhattan, KS
Keynote speakers: KU's Sarah Deer, Muscogee (Creek) is a highly respected legal scholar who is committed to ending violence against women, and was recently inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Susan Faircloth (Coharie) recently named as the Director of Colorado State’s College of Education, is one of the most respected Indigenous education scholars in her field and has engaged in extensive research and service to Indian education. Meredith McCoy (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa descent) is rising star in Indian education, and has studied the history of Indian education policy extensively on topics such as finance, law and curriculum.  

Free and open to the public, but registration is required (meals included)

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