Chief Raymond Two Hawks Watson will hold lecture on Native American, Rhode Island history
The Inclusive Reading Club (IRC) is excited to share that it has a special event to honor Native American History Month planned for its meeting on Thursday, Nov. 18, at 5 p.m. in the DiStefano Lecture Hall in Antone Academic Center.
During this special event, Chief Raymond Two Hawks Watson, the chief executive officer and founder of Providence Cultural Equity Initiative, is joining Salve Regina for a lively lecture entitled “We’re Still Here: Native Voices of Rhode Island.” This will be an in-person event only, and no registration is needed. Anyone from Salve Regina’s community is invited to attend.
Chief Watson is of Narragansett Indian heritage. He is also a community activist, educator, and cultural practitioner with fifteen years of experience in nonprofit executive administration. During the lecture, Chief Watson will be examining the myths and challenges faced by Native Americans, both historically and in the present day.
“Here in Rhode Island, people talk about us as if we only existed in the 1600s like we’re extinct,” said Chief Watson about the upcoming event. “It’s amazing, because my people are lawyers, doctors, teachers, community leaders …. But it’s almost like we’re not considered Indian unless we’re wearing feathers or skins. So not only am I fighting a myth that I’m extinct, but I also have to dress a certain way to be thought of as real.”
Chief Watson’s passion is to help people from different backgrounds come together and have honest conversations around topics of culture and history, according to Watson. This is also the goal of the Providence Cultural Equity Initiative, which offers Rhode Islanders ways to engage in conversations around cultural authenticity, equity, sustainability and economic opportunity.
People who want to come to the event are encouraged to read excerpts from “Dawnland Voices: An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England,” which is edited by Siobhan Senier. They can also explore other resources to learn more about their Native American neighbors in Rhode Island. Anyone can get started with the readings and resources here.
“In reading these materials, I’m hoping people will just take the time to enlighten themselves to different perspectives and different experiences, because if they’re claiming to be Americans and Rhode Islanders in particular, they should know about this history,” said Chief Watson. “If you know about Roger Williams, then you should know about my people … because we’ve been here for that same timeframe as well, and we’ve thrived and survived just like other Rhode Islanders have.”
The mission of the Inclusive Reading Club (IRC) is to engage members of the Salve Regina community in exploring issues of diversity and multiculturalism through short readings and discussions. The IRC provides an inclusive environment that encourages participants to develop a greater understanding and appreciation of different identities, cultures and communities.
The IRC is managed collaboratively by the Office of Multicultural Programs and Retention and McKillop Library. For more information, contact Gretchen Sotomayor, special programs and instruction librarian, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rose Albert, associate director of the Office of Multicultural Programs, at email@example.com.