Most students learn about Native American history through classes and museums. But for two Ithaca College students, their immersive service-learning experience with the Haudenosaunee tribe of New York took them all the way to Albuquerque for a national conference.
Junior anthropology majors Tariq Widarso and Matt Brooks traveled to the Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting in Albuquerque, N.M., to present analyses of their participation as anthropologists in the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign, a state-wide educational campaign in 2013 that commemorated the 400-year anniversary of the Two Row Wampum Treaty, a peace agreement signed by the Dutch and the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois Nation, in New York.
During the summer, Widarso and Brooks took part in the campaign’s Cayuga-territory events, including the Ithaca Festival Parade and the three-day Paddle Walk to the Cayuga SHARE Farm. The Onondaga Nation organized the campaign in partnership with Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation, a grassroots organization that tries to improve the relations with Native Americans in central New York.
Contributing Writer Arham Muneer sat down with Widarso to talk about his student research, service-learning alongside the Haudenosaunee and interest in Native American history. Brooks, who presented a separate research project, could not be reached for comment.
Arham Muneer: What was your presentation at the conference about?
Tariq Widarso: The theme of our presentations was our experiences as anthropologists at the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign. My paper specifically talked about the importance of collaborative and service learning with the Haudenosaunee. Service learning is a form of learning where you provide services to a community, and in return, you learn about them.
AM: How did you initially get interested into your topic of research?
TW: Before I took the summer course Service Learning in America with Professor Hansen, I had no knowledge of Native Americans and their past. The course was very eye-opening, and it helped me understand all the indigenous issues and problems Native Americans have been going through. Through this course, I became interested in the campaign, and that was my spark.
AM: How were you selected to present at the conference?
TW: We had worked with our professor, Brook Hansen, over the summer and were heavily involved in the Two Row Wampum Campaign. She offered us the opportunity to present at the conference since our work was related to the conference itself.
AM: How was your overall experience at the conference?
TW: The conference was a great experience. [The people] were very friendly towards undergraduate students, which created a supportive environment for us. I was presenting for the first time at a national conference and was not entirely sure about it but received a lot of feedback and support. We also met other anthropologists and learned about their work, so overall it was a fascinating experience.
AM: Was this the first time the college sent students to this conference?
TW: The Ithaca College anthropology department often sends students to national and regional conferences, which is a great thing because it prepares us for the future at such an early stage of our career.
AM: How did the conference and your involvement in the campaign impact your experience at the college?
TW: It was a very positive impact. Presenting at such a national conference truly boosted my confidence and helped me polish my presenting skills. The conference also encouraged me to present at future conferences such as this. I strongly encourage other students in all the fields to take advantage of such opportunities that will help them with their future.