Sudents and faculty were invited for a native culture talk hosted by Sheylah Silva. The talk, which was supposed to be held during Native Heritage Month in November, was held instead on Jan. 29.
Silva, a sophomore English major, led MSC’s ongoing ‘real talk’ where one person leads a discussion about a given culture.
During the discussion she talked about her Native American heritage as well as some issues facing her as one of the only native students at Wilkes. She also touched on some issues revolving around the Native American community today.
“As a native person, my experience has generally been that I feel that most people aren’t educated on the topic,” said Silva. “They don’t learn it in school and they really just know what they see in the media.
Fantasía Rodríguez, an MSC member, commented on what MSC wants students to get out of the ‘real talks.’
“We hope that students will be more understanding of different cultures,” said Rodríguez. “We want to kind of eliminate different things that can affect one another due to a lack of information.
“The more that we can inform students of what goes on in the different cultures, the better the community can come together.”
“I thought that it would be a good idea for her to share her knowledge with us because when we think about Native Americans,” said Dr. Evene Estwick, a communication studies professor who facilitated the discussion.
Silva began the talk by explaining the correct term for Native Americans: First people’s, First Nations, native or indigenous. She added that her actual nations are Choctaw Seminole on her mother’s side and Chiricahua Appachi on her father’s side.
She discussed how it is difficult to live in Northeast Pennsylvania with little contact with other native people. Silva did later say that she continually finds connections with her culture through social media outlets.
“I kind of find myself that I don’t fit sometimes in institutions,” said Silva.
She clarified through questions that native people are not a monolith, that each of the almost seven-hundred tribes has different cultures and beliefs
Silva also mentioned that although normal public school curriculum paints an untrue picture of native culture, she mentioned that one of her English professors, Dr. Mischelle Anthony has incorporated different native texts.
The discussion later led to talks about the Dakota Access Pipeline the issue of addresses on federal reservations. In both these instances, native people are being barred from their rights to their sacred waterways and the right to vote because reservations do not have federally recognized addresses to register.
“It is like spitting in native people’s faces,” added Silva.
The next MSC event, their ‘Soul Party,’ on Feb. 6 in the ballroom of the Henry Student center at 6 p.m.