Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center

Apr 15th, 2010 | By | Category: April 15, 2010, Campus News, Issue

Blessed by cedar

The Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center was blessed through a traditional Native American evergreen blessing on April 9.

The blessing was the first in a week-long celebration of the Gaughan Center, located on the east side of the Nebraska Union. Remaining events include an international karaoke and cultural dance, 7 p.m. to midnight, April 15; and an official dedication with the Gaughan family, 5 p.m., April 16.

For more information, go to http://unions.unl.edu/culture/.

Photos by Troy Fedderson/University Communications.

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4 comments
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  1. As an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and a member of the Lincoln Native community, I would like to point out that Dr. Awakuni Swetland is not now, and has never been a “member of the Omaha Nation.” Membership in the Omaha Nation, like the Choctaw Nation, is by blood. It is not an assumable identity by a person who is not a descendent of the people. Academics who study Native people do not become a “member” of a Native nation because of their interest in Native language or culture or their desire to actually be Native.

  2. A point of clarification on the caption for the hard copy image of me receiving a cedar blessing. For over 40 years I have lived and worked with the Omaha communities in Macy and Lincoln. However, I am not recognized as a member of the Omaha Tribe by tribal leaders. Thank you for correcting this mis-interpretaion. Mark Awakuni-Swetland, Ph.D., ANTH/IES/NAS

  3. Hello,

    While I am very pleased that there is an article on the blessing and the hand-game at the new culture center I would also like to add that I am a little concerned with how it has been presented on this website. While I am, myself, Native American, and am also involved with many native student organizations, in my culture it is in very bad taste to take pictures of sacred ceremonies and would hope that in future events that Scarlet feels interested in that they would use other pictures rather than the ones of the blessings. Another thing to have understood is that this blessing is called the Cedar blessing and is not necessarily a “Native American” blessing, but rather an Omaha nation blessing. Blessings can differ from nation to nation and are not represented in all tribes. I am Oglala Lakota and we traditionally use sage for our blessings. Every nation is different and these differences must be taken into account if there is to be true understanding of Native traditions, cultures and peoples.
    I am unsure if permission was asked to use the pictures of the blessing but I would like to have it noted that I was at the ceremony and thought it was a little inappropriate that pictures were being taken of the blessing itself. I didn’t say anything because the decision wasn’t up to me and I was unsure about the specifics. Also, blessings are done for hand-games in general, but this was a special blessing of the new culture center, which I was very happy about. These blessings and ceremonies are very special to me and just like you cannot take pictures in a Hindu temple or a Mosque it is important that ceremonies and blessings remain sacred and are treated with the respect that they are due. While I realize that these beliefs are not widespread, and therefore misunderstood, they are a big part of my life. I hope in the future that the right steps are taken to ensure that the proper decorum is used for such events and that they can continuously be a part of everyone’s lives here on this campus.

    Mitakuye Oyasin,
    We are all related,
    Sloane

  4. As i have already corrected the mis-representation of myself as a member of the Omaha Tribe in the photograph caption, Dr. Aker’s comments are partially moot. The Scarlet published the correction in the next week’s issue.

    I concur with Dr. Aker’s statement regarding anyone studying an indigenous group NOT automatically being able to claim membership in that group. I routinely remind my UNL Omaha language students that studying the language does not, in any way, give them any claim of tribal membership. However, it does provide them the opportunity to learn and appreciate a dynamic group of Nebraskans. However, with Omaha sovereignty in mind, I am curious how a member of one native nation (Choctaw) can assume to speak to authoritatively about another native nation’s (Omaha) practices.

    I appreciated hearing of Mr. Sloane’s attendance at the event and can understand his perspective regarding the photographing of the blessing ceremony. However he was not privy to the conversation held between the Man-in-Charge Mitchell Parker, Dr. Waters from OASIS, the photographer, and myself as the Public Relations Officer of the co-sponsors (Lincoln Indian Club). In that discussion priot to the event, the photographer asked Mr. Parker of the appropriateness of photographing the blessing. As i recall, Mr. Parker did not disuade photographs, but asked only that they not interfere with his movements.

    As Mr. Sloane may recall, Mr. Parker went to great lenghts to explain to the people gathered why he was doing what he was doing, and from whom his authorization had come (his father, also an ordained minister in the Native American Church). At least from the Omaha perspective, the minister or roadman is in control of who enters the church meeting, and the agenda the service will follow. If he has additional questions regarding the conduct of the ceremony I would encourage him to contact Mitchell Parker in Walthill, Nebraska. Dr. Waters at the UNL OASIS office could provide contact information. Regards, Mark Awakuni-Swetland, Ph.D. Anthropology/Ethnic Studies (Native Amerian Studies)

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