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OU AT&T American Indian Scholars to host basket weaving event for Native American Heritage Month

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weaving resiliency

A flyer for 'Weaving Resiliency' from the reservation page for the event.

As part of Native American Heritage Month, the AT&T American Indian Scholars at OU are hosting a Cherokee basket weaving event at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

The "Weaving Resilience" event will feature Cherokee basket weaving tutorials and guest speakers Joshua Cooper and Jay Silk, according to the flyer. Antonia Belindo, the coordinator of American Indian Programs and Services, said each speaker has his own story to share.

“With Joshua Cooper, he is an adoptee, so he uses basket weaving as a form of expressing his identity,” Belindo said. “Same way with Jay Silk, where basket weaving is also an example of how he is able to bring together his identity as a Cherokee and a Filipino person. Their information is (useful) when it comes to trying to find a way back to connect to their own personal identity.”

Joshua Cooper and Jay Silk formerly worked with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, a federal law that governs the placement of Native American children, Belindo said.

“These two individuals would go to court cases and advocate for children to be adopted by Native families,” Belindo said. “They also would advocate for making sure that our children are receiving the best interest by the court and by the state agencies.”

According to the flyer, discussing strategies in supporting mental health and identity will be a part of the event as well. Belindo said basket weaving holds significance to these concepts.

“(The baskets) start with four spokes, and those four pieces of reed relate to the four directions,” Belindo said. “So it's a symbol of bringing the elements of the earth together and weaving them into something that is tangible and useful to the person.”

This event is not the first time a basket weaving event was held on campus. Another weaving session was held in October, and Belindo said she needed to bring it back again. 

“I saw so many people come, and they just weren't on their phones,” Belindo said. “They were not even talking really — maybe some conversation — but they were so focused on this basket and then a few hours later, they lifted their heads like, 'Oh, I'm done.' I just thought that was a really beautiful moment for people to have the opportunity and take a break throughout the day and do something a little different than what they were probably doing.”

The event will take place at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17 in the Scholars Room of the Oklahoma Memorial Union. The event is free, and registration is necessary for supplies and is available here.

“I hope everyone is able to see and connect to how Native people understand the world around them and how some of those connections are different,” Belindo said. “(The basket) comes together as something very beautiful. … It will always look different than maybe the person next to you or the person who's the expert and has been teaching you, but it's always something that is similar in form.”

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