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Native American Conference celebrates 10th anniversary

Date released: 03/11/04

SAN MARCOS – The 10th Annual Southeastern Ceremonial Complex Working Group conference will meet on the Texas State University-San Marcos campus March 17-21, attracting anthropologists from across the country interested in the ancient Native American symbolism.

The conference focuses on recovering meaning from the ceremonial iconography of the native peoples of the eastern woodlands (Mississippian), including the Caddo. The conference is sponsored by the Center for the Arts and Symbolism of Ancient America (CASAA) in the Department of Anthropology and supported by a grant from the Lannan Foundation.

“ The group of symbols carried by the pottery, statuary, and costume of the Mississippian peoples has been essentially misunderstood until the last decade,” said conference director Kent Reilly, Ph.D., who also directs CASAA. “The symbols are expressions of ancient Native American belief systems, still alive today. Our goal is to return the Native Americans’ past to them.”

This year, conferees will try to ascertain whether two groups--the Caddo of East Texas and the Cahokia, in Missouri and Oklahoma--are sharing and manipulating the same sets of symbols. In the past, conferees have put together a corpus of approximately 20 symbols that they can understand with some certainty. Their findings will be published soon in two volumes-- Studies in Mississippian Iconography, Vols. 1 and 2.

Among the anthropologists scheduled to present at the conference are Dr. James Brown, Northwestern University; Dr. James Knight, University of Alabama; Dr. David Dye, University of Memphis; Dr. Carol Diaz-Granados, Washington University of St. Louis; Dr. Deeann Story, University of Texas faculty emerita; Dr. Vincas Steponaitis, University of North Carolina; and Dr. George Lanford, Lyons College, Arkansas.

For more information on the conference, contact Reilly at (512) 245-8272 or via email at