Iowa State University’s hosting the 32nd annual Symposium on the American Indian all this week. Erma Wilson-White, a program assistant in Minority Student Affairs, says native Americans have been fighting stereotypes for more than 500 years and still face many challenges. This year they’re looking at sovereignty issues, tribal traditions that are “eternal laws,” and teraties the tribes signed when they gave up their land. Wilson-White says in addition to the Sac & Fox Tribe near Tama, Nebraska’s Omaha and Winnebago tribes own land in Iowa and have tribal members in the state.There’s a huge population of native peoples around the Sioux City, over 4,000 in number, she says. Their sovereignty is a hot issue today both locally and nationally, as the original United States treaties with tribes gave them the status of sovereign nations. She says those rights can include who has jurisdiction over child-welfare cases, education, gaming rights, spiritual matters, and other issues, and sometimes Iowa must understand it doesn’t deal with tribes, the federal government does. Another matter comes up with highway or other construction unearths human remains that may signify a tribal burial ground.A Native American person must go in and decide whether the buried remains can be removed or must be left at that site. The downtown site for Des Moines’ new Science Center may be one such location, since surveyors have found what may be prehistoric remains at that location. The symposium continues with evening lectures and a family program and pow wow on Saturday at Iowa State University.
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