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An internationally renowned Native American artist, a noted historical performer, an award-winning Choctaw musician and the 2008 Dynamic Women of the Chickasaw Nation will visit East Central University Monday through Thursday [APRIL 7-10] for the annual campus series "On Oklahoma Ground: A Celebration of Native American History."

The series, sponsored by ECU's Hayes Native American Center, will include appearances by Edgar Heap of Birds, Dr. Michael Hughes as Cherokee Chief John Ross, Brad Clonch and his band "Injunity" and a forum of the Chickasaw women. All events are free to the public and will be held in the Estep Multimedia Center on the first floor of the University Center.

Edgar Heap of Birds

Cheyenne/Arapaho artist Edgar Heap of Birds will present a lecture at 7 p.m. Monday [APRIL 7] about political appropriation, language and self determination as an artistic aspect of Native American culture and contemporary society.

The artist, who is widely known for his public installations using official signage vernacular, also will speak to students at 1 p.m. Both lectures will be hosted by ECU's Department of Art and the Hayes Center for Native American Studies.

Heap of Birds is considered an expert on, and has lectured about, tribal traditions, contemporary art, memory and self determination by native peoples. He was selected to represent the Smithsonian Institution in the United States Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale. He has lectured in England, Western Samoa, Thailand, South Africa, Spain, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Zimbabwe, Italy and Australia.

He has exhibited works at the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, National Museum of the American Indian, National Gallery of Canada and other prestigious venues. He is an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma and has taught at as a visiting professor at Yale University, Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Heap of Birds uses multiple mediums and methods to create his artwork which includes large scale drawings, Neuf Series acrylic paintings, prints and monumental porcelain enamel on steel outdoor sculpture. His 50-foot sculpture, "Wheel," inspired by the traditional Medicine Wheel of the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming, sits outside the Denver Art Museum.

Dr. Michael Hughes as Chief John Ross

Noted historical performer Dr. Michael Hughes will portray John Ross, the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1828 to 1866, at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Ross is highly regarded for his role in leading the fight against Indian removal and leading his people to their exile in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) as well as later struggles during the Civil War as the Cherokee Nation faced internal and external pressures. 

Hughes, a longtime adjunct member of ECU's art and history departments, travels the country each summer participating in Chautauquas and other living-history performances. He has portrayed numerous individuals and is known as a master storyteller.

Brad Clonch and His Band "Injunity"

Brad Clonch and his band "Injunity" will perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Clonch, a self-taught composer and performer, began playing the piano at age 12 and later wrote many pieces that have won major awards. It wasn't until several years later that he decided to play an instrument that was native to his Choctaw culture. It led to his new release "Finding Windsong."

His music has been described as melding the best of both worlds, a musical bridge between his Choctaw heritage and his exploration of the contemporary. His second album, "Midnight," was a 2002 NAMMY (Native American Music Award) nominee.

Clonch has won numerous ADDY Awards for production pieces ranging from choreographed dance performances to radio and television public service announcements. He has participated in numerous tribal leadership camps and culture camps and has spoken throughout Oklahoma to native youth on issues involving education, aspirations, culture and identity.

Dynamic Women of the Chickasaw Nation

ECU will host the 2008 Dynamic Women of the Chickasaw Nation in a forum at 7 p.m. Thursday in cooperation with the Chickasaw Nation. Chickasaw Gov. Bill Anoatubby selects the recipients of the annual award.

The evening pays tribute to the valuable contributions and talents of dynamic Chickasaw women. The forum is presented annually by the Chickasaw Clemente Humanities Studies program through the Chickasaw Nation Division of Arts and Humanities in partnership with ECU.

ECU's Native American Student Association will host a reception immediately following the forum.

For more information, contact Dr. Thomas Cowger, chair of ECU's History Department and director of the Native Studies Program, at 580-559-5419 or Dr. Linda Reese, associate professor of history, at 580-559-5563.

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