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image: "Native Chicago" headlineContinued... On campus, Straus has furthered her goal of educating others about Native Americans as a lecturer in the University's Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS), which she joined in 1995 after two years as a senior researcher at the American Indian Economic Development Association in Chicago. During a January meeting of her winter quarter class, Anthropology 320: Topics on Native America: Indian Civil Rights Act, she reviewed with 13 students a series of early Supreme Court decisions significant to native peoples, highlighting one that has had repercussions through modern times. Written by Chief Justice John Marshall in 1831, it established the legal foundations for the present-day trust relationship between the federal government and Native Americans, with these words referring to the Cherokee: "Meanwhile they are in a state of pupilage. Their relation to the United States resembles that of a ward to his guardian."

Straus explained the concept to the class in a manner both businesslike and down-to-earth, like her attire of teal business suit and black walking shoes. The passage, she said, portrayed Native Americans as "cognitively disabled adults or young children not capable of handling their own situations, their own land in particular. A straight-out statement of paternalism is pretty clearly here." But, she noted, Native Americans have found ways to use this passage to their advantage. "Today, the trust relationship is important in safeguarding the special legal and political status of Indian tribes," she explained. "Tribes have used it to hold the government liable in its fiduciary responsibilities to Indians. Tribes have turned the burden of paternalism into a strength."

Outside the classroom, Straus has worked to bring Native-American culture to campus. Currently, she's assisting curators Robert G. Donnelley, AM'97, and Richard A. Born, AM'75, with an upcoming Smart Museum exhibit of works by the Native-American artist Silver Horn. Titled Transforming Images: The Art of Silver Horn and His Successors, the April 13-June 11 exhibit will showcase Silver Horn's ledger book drawings and hide paintings, including a collection from the Field Museum of Natural History that has never been shown publicly. The works record the history and culture of Kiowa Plains Indian life at the turn of the century.

For the past two years, Straus has provided students in her anthropology classes with a more interactive Native-American cultural experience. Each spring quarter class has organized an on-campus powwow, including the performance of traditional Native-American dances and songs. The 1998 event was held on the Midway Plaisance in June to commemorate the 1961 powwow. Last year, the event grew from a small cultural demonstration to include more than 20 dancers, representing as many tribes, and two drum groups. Straus is now working with students and the Gathering of Nations, an Albuquerque-based powwow-planning organization, to bring to the Midway what she hopes will be a powwow nearly as large as that held in 1961. She expects the free and open-to-the-public event to attract several hundred dancers and as many as 70 crafts vendors during the last weekend in September.

Ultimately, Straus hopes that classes on Native-American issues, the Silver Horn exhibit, the Midway powwows, and other such efforts will help to acknowledge the presence of Native Americans at the University and to attract more Native-American students. (According to the registrar, 19 Native Americans are currently enrolled at the U of C.) Also to that end, she advises the Native American Students Association, which grew out of her students' past powwow organizing efforts.

NASA president Jessica Hansbrough, a fourth-year anthropology concentrator, says the purpose of the group is to help connect Native-American students to each other, and to connect all students to the city's Native-American community. Its 30 members, she says, are a mix of Native-American students and other graduate and undergraduate students who are studying Native-American topics or are generally interested in Native-American culture. In early February, the group planned to bring White Hawk, a local Native-American drum group, to the C-Shop's weekly music showcase, the Flow.

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