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Expanded biographies for the 3rd Annual Native American Cultural Awareness Conference

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
March 20, 2009

Shannon Speed (Chickasaw) is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Director of Engaged Research and the Indigenous Studies Initiative at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her PhD in Anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of California, Davis in 2001. Her research interests include human rights, indigenous rights, globalization, gender, social justice and resistance movements, and activist research methods. For the last twelve years, Dr. Speed’s research has been carried out in Chiapas, Mexico, where she worked with human rights and indigenous rights organizations. She is the author of Rights in Resistance: Indigenous Struggle and Human Rights in Chiapas (Stanford University Press 2007) and co-editor of Dissident Women: Gender and Cultural Politics in Chiapas (University of Texas Press 2006) and Human Rights in the Maya Region: Global Politics, Moral Engagements, and Cultural Contentions, (Duke University Press 2008). Her Spanish-language publications include Bajo la Lanza: Lucha por la Tierra e Identidad Comunitaria en Nicolás Ruiz (CONECULTA 2006) and as co-editor, Gobernar en la Diversidad: Experiencias Indígenas en América Latina CIESAS-Mexico and FLACSO Ecuador/Guatemala).

Lecture: "Indians are Indians, Here or There": Native Peoples of the U.S. and Latin America"   

Deerheart Hummingbird; bloodline is that of the Choctaw Nation. She was born in Chicago, IL in 1957 to a Mexican/American Indian mother and an African–American father. Hummingbird is the middle child of three brothers and one sister. In 1979, Deerheart moved to Iowa City to provide a better future for herself as well as her children. She has three sons and one daughter, which she raised while working full-time and attending the university.

Deerheart attended Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. There she obtained her Administrative Assistant Associate of Applied Science Degree. She went on to pursue her degree by working at the University of Iowa in the College of Engineering department. Hummingbird has been a part of organizations such as: The University of Iowa Council on the Status of Latinos', The Engineering Staff Council, and was Chairperson of The Engineering Staff Recognition Award Committee.

Growing up Hummingbird was aware of her Choctaw heritage but was not raised around the culture. For as long as she could remember there had been something missing in her life. It was not until she cried out to Creator for help in finding her true self, her purpose, and her destiny. It was then that Creator led her to walk the good red road, which in turn filled the emptiness that plagued her life. Creator has blessed Deerheart with the gift of listening to her ancestors. They walk closely with her guiding and teaching Hummingbird wonderful things.

With the guidance of her ancestors, Deerheart has created her own business in which she designs both Traditional and Contemporary American Indian Regalia. She is a Member of the White Horse Nation (Educating the Community) and The Women’s Shell Shakers Society ~ Lake Geneva: Fund Raiser. Deerheart has volunteered her services to projects such as the Oneida Cultural Project (Wisconsin) and the Pow-Wow circuit: Midwest Soaring, Aurora, Pleasant Prairie, MacTown, Eagle Creek, Jolie, Fredricksburg and University of Illinois Chicago. Hummingbird plans to continue to reach out to the people through her business, speaking engagements (educational), workshops and remains on the “Walk on the Ancient Red Road” that Creator has blessed her to be on.

Lecture: "Perspectives on Women's Self Esteem: A Native Woman's Point of View "     

Emma Garcia Ortega I was born into a Mexican Apache and Carrizo family in San Antonio, Texas. I was raised in both cultures and was taught to respect and appreciate our traditional ways. Stories have always been around me. As a child, while visiting my Mama Grande (Grandmother) in Benavides, the family would share stories around the kitchen table or in the front yard, under a big orange tree.

But my best time was when the weather was cold and I sat with my parents, in our one room house, around a wood burning stove, drinking hot herb tea (because there was no milk) and listened to the stories. It was magic.

We are the story keepers of our ancestors and I have been privileged to share my stories with many people in many places.
Lecture: "Broken Pots"  
P hil Stucker (Northern Cherokee) NCNOLT
Trail of Tears and past Chairman Four Winds Intertribal Society. Phil is a storyteller and a southern straight dancer. He is a past president of the So. IL Genealogy Society and a member of the Chewy stomp grounds.
Lecture:  "Finding your Genealogical Heritage"
Gre gY awakia (Zuni)

Impson Greg Yawakia, Native of Zuni Tribe, Veteran, and Traditional Teacher. Impson was born raised in Pueblo of Zuni where he lived and learned his traditional ways of life. He has assisted in developing Language Dictionaries for several tribes. Impson has been a tribal Oral Historian documenting Zuni Tribal Oral History/Traditions. He currently teaches a select few on herbal medicine and ceremonial ways in Hot Springs Arkansas.

Lecture:  "Our Four Spiritual Directions"
Chief Shellbone (Southern U te)
Ceremonial Leader. Turquoise miner. Jeweler.

“I am a sundancer and a chief. I enjoy prospecting for turquoise and other minerals. I do lapidary work and some silversmithing. I am married and I have no kids.”

Lecture: "Through the Buffalo : The Chiefs helped the People "
R ay Duncan (Cherokee)

A native of Oklahoma. Former chairman of the Keetowah and a member of the Four Winds Society. He is a retired member of the U. S. Army (1st Calvary). He will often be called upon to be the Master of Ceremonies at lo­cal powwows and events.

Moderator of Panel Discussion at 5pm in Ballroom
W illiam Harjo (Creek)

William been making traditional flutes for 15 years. He is a full blood Creek Indian from Oklahoma. He has performed all over the country and Europe and was selected as one of the premier flute makers to be at the dedication of the Smithsonian’s Native American Museum. He has given many lectures across the U.S. Used to give lecture to graduating class at Penn State’s Police Academy on race relations.

lecture: "On Native Languages"
O rvie Longhorn (Kiowa-Caddo-Delaware)

Survivor or the relocation program. Great-Great Grandmother A-gope-tah (Cheyenne) on mother’s side was one of the survivors of the Sand Creek Massacre.

lecture: "Reel and Real Indians"
Aaron P yle (Choctaw)

Texas State Alum, musician. A recent graduate from the Texas State University School of Music and a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Aaron’s primary field of interest is Ethno­musicology with an emphasis in research on the Traditional music of North America. Aaron also performs with Hakloka, a Native American inspired folk ensemble with fellow musicians Antonio De La Rosa, and Allison Nagle.

Special Music event with Hakloka at 12pm in Ballroom
Judy Cyr (H uron)
Lady’s Cloth Powwow Dancer

Graduate of Drake University- Bachelor of Education degree. Published poet. Horsewoman. Showing, breeding, and training horses since 1961

lecture: " Womens" Dance : In Relation to Healing"        
Kassa Willingham (Comanche) & Paula Crutsinger
Lecture: "Comanche Woman living in a White Man's World"        
Ricardo Arreazola and Cristina Salazar
Founders of Cuicani in Xochitl.

A Traditional Aztec dance group that works to preserve and promotes Mexican native cultures. They teach Mesoamerican traditions sponsored by the Office of Cultural Affairs in Dallas area schools. They are active practitioners of Mexican native spirituality; as such, they dance, and play ancient percussion and wind instruments as part of their training. They find in the ancient spirituality of their forefathers: Meaning, metaphor, and beauty.

Lecture: "Atomic Theory and Aztec Dance"  

Noquisa is Comanche/Cherokee, a warrior who served her country with high honors, serves her people as a leader and earning elder status in many nations, a mother and clan mother, designer and artist whose work has traveled the world.


Shalee is Cherokee/Lakota/Blackfoot, a warrior who faithfully served her Country with much dignity and honor, following the path Grandfather has set for her while serving The People to the best of her abilities.

 Topic – Women’s/Children’s Regalia for competitions/types of dances/everyday life…. Etiquettes…. A round dance for them to actually do & maybe a few others, depends on the group….. 

Juanita Lopez, RN, BSN
Nurse for 30 years
CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator)
Member of AADE
Special emphasis on natural healing techniques & herbal medicines
Traditional Mexica dancer for 20 years
Secretary of the Native American Church chapter in Texas Teocalli Quetzacoatl

Juanita Vasquez-Lopez RN, BSN CDE is  of Mexica and Apache ancestry. She has been a practitioner of the Mexica Dance Traditions and Native American Ceremonial Gatherings since 1988. Juanita has been a nurse since 1978 and is employed as a health educator with Methodist Healthcare Ministries. She is currently specialized as a certified diabetes educator and teaches one on one and group settings at the Wesley Health and Wellness Center, a clinic for uninsured persons on the south side of San Antonio, Texas.

Topic: Living Daily with Diabetes Health Education Information Table