Learn about education, Native Americans

Published 12:16 am Thursday, November 3, 2016

As we approach the end of our Tricentennial year, our November Legends and Lore offerings will have a two-pronged focus. One will be to learn about our earliest indigenous peoples in celebration of Native American heritage month. The other will explore aspects of education in the Natchez area.

We acknowledge and applaud the fact that several of our speakers this month have been serving as long-time members of the sponsoring Natchez Tricentennial Ethnic and Social History Committee that has been dedicated not only to telling as many Natchez stories as possible, but also to hosting these gatherings in a variety of spots around this community.

All November sessions will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will be at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, 400 Jeff Davis Blvd. Seating will be somewhat limited, so please come a little early.

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Our weekly gatherings will kick off on Nov. 7 with a presentation about Alcorn State University by Christian singer/songwriter and media specialist Jessica Hinton-Hawkins, who is not only a 2010 graduate of Alcorn but also served as Miss Alcorn State University in 2009-2010.

The creation of ASU as the nation’s first land-grant college for African Americans points to the significance of their political power in this region during the years immediately after the Civil War. In 1871, Hiram R. Revels stepped into the role of first president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College — after the expiration of his term in the United States Senate, where he was the first African-American to serve in either house of the U.S. Congress.

Alcorn State University has held a significant place in state higher-level education since that time — especially in southwest Mississippi. Oakland Memorial Chapel at Alcorn has been designated not only a Mississippi Landmark but also a National Historic Landmark.

On Nov. 14 we will hear from Jim Barnett, accomplished historian/author, not too long retired as long-time director of the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians. His intriguing presentation is entitled, “When Women Controlled Identity: Matrilineal Kinship and Mississippi’s Indians.”

Our host, Lance Harris, the current director of the Grand Village, will speak on Nov. 21. His talk will be: “Depictions of Native Natchez:  Indigenous Influence on Art and Literature from La Louisiane to Early Statehood.”

Finally, on Nov. 28, we will learn about the history of education in Natchez from Betty Sago, a graduate of Sadie V. Thompson, Alcorn State University and the University of Southern Mississippi, who worked in the Natchez Public School for more than 25 years. She is currently co-director with her husband, Monroe Sago, of the Rhythm Night Club Onsite Memorial Museum located at 5 St. Catherine St. in Natchez.

The Tricentennial Ethnic & Social History committee extends many thanks to the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians for their hospitality this month.  For more information, please contact Kelin Hendricks at the Natchez Tricentennial Office at 1-800-647-6724 or kelin@natchezms300.com.
Kathleen Bond is a member of the Natchez Tricentennial Ethnic & Social History Committee.