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UAS Native & Rural Student Center Hosts 19th Annual Oratory Showcase

The theme of this year’s event was Haa kusteeyi guganeix, or “Our way of life will heal.”

Juneau, Alaska

Date of Press Release: March 2, 2021

On Saturday, February 27, UAS hosted its 19th annual Oratory Showcase. Normally held on the Auke Lake Campus, the event was held virtually this year via Zoom. The theme of this year’s event was Haa kusteeyi guganeix, or “Our way of life will heal.” Organized through the Native & Rural Student Center (NRSC) by Kolene James, and her team of collaborators Chancellor Karen Carey, Janelle Cook, Mae Delcastillo, Jennifer Gross, Lyle James, and Alyssa Baldwin, the event featured students using dramatic declamation, storytelling, or world languages to enhance their presentations. A special thank you to all of our friends and family who tuned in near and far to witness this event.

Oratory is a speech delivered from memory or limited notes which uses reasoning, elocution and evidence to support the expressed opinion. For the UAS Oratory Showcase, topics include but are not limited to subjects like subsistence, sovereignty, urban and rural conflicts, multilingualism, education, and more. Each of the students used one or all of the following speech sources to deliver a powerful oratory - the first option is dramatic declamation, which is a recitation of an Indigenous speech or persuasive document. The second option is storytelling, featuring Indigenous stories which are either published or shared with permission of the author, clan, elder or tribe when appropriate. The third option for performers to use is a presentation from memory in their choice of a World Language, which also provides time for translation.

UAS Student Equity & Multicultural Services Manager DáxKílatch Kolene James recognized the orators and volunteers stating, “Gunalcheesh Haw'aa Ntoyk'sm to all of our esteemed Oratory participants Rose Willard, Elizah Dominy, Herb Sheakley, Joe Hillaire Jr., Lauryn Framke, Victoria McKoy, Aidan Bowers, Ryan Qualls and to our volunteer aunties and uncles Della Cheney, Dr. Sonia Ibarra, Danny Green, Lori Klein, Amalia Monreal, Jorden Nigro, Jacque Tagaban, David Abad, Heather Burge, Jackie Wilson, David Russell-Jensen, Ronalda Cadiente Brown for successfully participating with the UAS 19th Annual Oratory Showcase!” DáxKílatch noted there were a total of 26 participants, and expressed gratitude for the financial support received from, the NRSC Widmark Foundation, Sealaska Heritage Institute, the UAS Financial Aid department, and the PITAAS program (Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska Schools).

The event has been held for the past 19 years and is organized by the UAS Native and Rural Student Center. The mission of the center is to create a student-centered inclusive environment that honors diversity, celebrates cultural traditions and knowledge, and enhances the learning experiences of students. Led by Kolene James, the center provides students with a campus home base which allows them to interact with peers, observe positive role models, and receive encouragement, enhancing their ability to succeed in the college environment. Located on the Auke Lake Campus near Student Resources, since 1996, the NRSC has provided a warm, inviting atmosphere filled with opportunities to gather with peers, receive academic support, and develop leadership skills.

Lori Klein, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs commented, “The orators I heard were fantastic. These are students who volunteer to share their time, language, experience and learning with the public - it's a humbling experience! Kolene very successfully navigated this high touch, deeply meaningful traditional event in a Zoom environment with lots of skill, grace, and good humor.”

Planning is already underway for next year’s showcase, which will include performances from oratory alumni.

Explore Indigenous cultures and arts in the ancestral home of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples at the University of Alaska Southeast or call and speak with an advisor at (907) 796-6000.

Press Release Contact

Keni Campbell
Public Information Officer
(907) 796-6509