Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Story-tellers at the Crossroads: American Indian youth group seeks bonds with Palestinian youth‏

What would compel a student group from Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas to travel to Palestine? Despite enduring a legacy of stolen land and sovereignty, Native youth will exchange stories with Palestinian youth during a two-week delegation to Palestine in August.

Fundraiser Dinner Event for 7th Generation Indigenous Visionaries
To support the Haskell students’ delegation Citizens for Justice in the Middle East will host a fundraiser dinner on Sunday, May 31 at 6:00 pm at the Holy Land Café, 12275 West 87th Street Parkway, Overland Park, Kansas. All proceeds will go to the student group, 7th Generation Indigenous Visionaries, to help pay for their travel expenses. The dinner will feature Haskell student leader Melissa Franklin, who will participate in the Indigenous Youth Delegation to Palestine, and Laura Closson, a Kansas City resident and Redlands University graduate, will discuss her observations in a women's delegation to Gaza in March 2009.

The fundraiser dinner cost is $25 per person, $40 per couple, and $50 for a family. The dinner will consist of Middle Eastern cuisine at the award-winning Holy Land Café. Benefit participants are encouraged to make reservations by calling Ginger at 913-362-8362, or purchase tickets by sending a check made out to “MECA” and addressed to Ginger Kenney, CJME, 9000 Mullen, Lenexa, KS 66215. MECA is the Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA), which is a registered nonprofit organization working for the rights and the well being of children in the Middle East.


Melissa Franklin, a student leader at the university, will join four other current students and alumni on the delegation. Haskell serves as a “crossroads for many Indian tribes,” Melissa mentioned, pointing out that dozens of tribes have been represented by the children and students attending. Her grandmother attended Haskell in the 1920’s and her grandfather worked there for 27 years. Her family heritage includes Comanche, Wichita, and Sac & Fox tribes.

Using their story-telling experience the student group will share stories with Palestinians tracing their ancestors’ footsteps through Haskell boarding school before it became a four-year university. Through family and tribal stories, they recall how Haskell started as an institute of forced assimilation but now serves as a center of healing.

7th Generation Indigenous Visionaries, an independent group of current students and alumni from Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, will join a delegation to Palestine for two weeks in August 2009. The delegation is comprised of grassroots youth groups throughout the U.S. and Palestine. The organizing group is connecting Native and immigrant youth in the U.S with youth in Palestine “through the use of print media, traditional music, hip hop, photography, poetry, video, and other forms of arts media, we share our stories and involve our local communities in building a national and international movement against colonization and for self-determination.”

The 7th Generation Indigenous Visionaries’ goal to share their stories is a powerful gesture of solidarity with Palestinians. This effort to bridge their common struggle is inspiring. Liberation and self-determination is the delegation’s goal – let’s do all we can to support them by attending the fundraiser or making a financial donation.

For more information go to the CJME web site – http://www.cjme.org

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