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An Open Invitation to Native American Day

Wisdom of the Elders, Inc. (WOTE) extends a warm invitation to Portland's culturally-rich community to attend Native American Day on Sunday, October 10. This community celebration will demonstrate and honor the richness of Native American way of life by sharing a special mix of wisdom and storytelling from indigenous elders, as well as drumming, dance and music from Judy Trejo (Piaute), Arlie Neskahi (Navajo), Nico Wind (Assiniboine), the Aztec Dance Group and the Martin High Bear Memorial Sun Dance Drummers. This gathering also acknowledges the vital role our youth play in carrying forward their culture's exemplary values and traditions. Native American Day will be celebrated on Sunday, October 10 from noon until 5 PM at Portland State University's Smith Ballroom, 1825 SW Broadway in downtown Portland. This event is funded in part by the Regional Arts and Culture Council and A Territory Resource (Seattle, WA).

Wisdom of the Elders, Inc. is a Native American non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation located in Portland, Oregon. As First Nations people, we are humbled by the wisdom of our elders and the deep connection they share with Great Spirit, the world of nature and family. We regard our elders as the rapidly vanishing and irreplaceable keepers of oral history, tradition and environment. The values they extol represent an ancient legacy of knowledge that is becoming as endangered as many disappearing species in our fragile ecosystem.

Our mission: To record and preserve traditional cultural values, oral history, folk art, prophesy and other messages of guidance from exemplary indigenous elders by using documentary production, book publishing, public gatherings, and other educational venues. We are seeking to regenerate the richness of indigenous heritage and cultural values among today's and future generations of Native Americans, especially the growing number recovering from alcohol, drugs and other cycles of abuse. As part of our race reconciliation and education mission, WOTE also acknowledges the vital importance of reconciliation between races. We concur with the thoughts of Richard West, Director of the National Museum of the American Indian, who stated: "We seek to correct misconceptions, end prejudice, stop injustice, and demonstrate how Indian culture has and will continue to enrich our worlds." It is for this reason that WOTE offers the wisdom of these rich teachings with all races of mankind in collaboration with diverse cultural organizations.

WOTE's professional video-recordings of elders, traditional storytellers, drummers, musicians and dancers presenting at these multi-cultural gatherings also preserves the richness of many world cultures living in today's Oregon. Our productions are offered as an archival showcase of the area's finest Native American and ethnic wisdom and cultural performances during this period of Oregon's history. Programming is rebroadcast on Multnomah County Television (MCTV) in a monthly series called Wisdom of the Elders Television, and copies are shared with co-sponsors. Portions are also showcased on our website at www.homestead.com/wote (currently being developed) which will allow us to share important messages and performances with a greater segment of our region.

During the year 2000, we plan to continue sponsoring "An Afternoon with Wisdom of the Elders," our series of four multi-cultural gatherings which exhibit the long-standing First Nations tradition of sharing indigenous knowledge and wisdom, as well as stirring drumbeat, music and dance to interested citizens of all cultures. The gatherings acknowledge the priceless contributions our elders have made in preserving the old ways and cultural values as they serve as exemplary role models for younger generations. We also honor the diversity of ethnic heritage and learn from the wisdom of their exemplary elders: African-American culture in February, Latino-American in March, European-American in April and Asian-American in May. Gatherings are held at colleges and universities in the Portland metropolitan area in collaboration with a growing number of individuals, institutions and organizations.

To accomplish its educational, cultural preservation, and racial reconciliation missions in the local area, WOTE is currently making an "open call" to the regional community, requesting networking and publicity assistance during the month prior to Native American Day. Collaboration with like-minded individuals and organizations is a major aspect of our mission. Therefore, interested individuals and community organizations are welcome to call us for more information. Call Stuart Watson, Project Director or Melissa Selsor, Volunteer Coordinator at (503) 775-4014 or write WOTE at 5518 SE Flavel Drive, Portland, OR 97206. Our e-mail address is wote@pcez.com. Although we meet regularly as an extended family for potluck meetings, it is not necessary to attend meetings to participate.

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