Denison University’s Laura C. Harris Series welcomes Maura García and Ahyoka Youngdeer.

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Denison University’s Laura C. Harris Series welcomes Maura García and Ahyoka Youngdeer presenting “Ꮟ ᎠᏂᏬᏂ They Are Still Talking.”

García (non-enrolled Cherokee/Mattamuskeet) is a dancer, a choreographer and the artistic director of Maura García Dance (MGD). Her work is powered by a desire to perpetuate ancestral knowledge, actively respect the living earth and further social justice. García’s artistic creations reflect the power of stories to form and change our realities. Through narrative driven choreography she seeks to form connections, empower Indigenous cultural values and explore the rhythms of the natural world. As a fellow in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian’s 2016 Artist Leadership Program, she worked with members of the Kansas City Indian Center and local Indigenous artists to realize an 8-month arts project exploring ancient and contemporary urban Indian identity. García is dedicated to collaborating within Indigenous communities to celebrate group narratives through dance and other art forms. “Ꮟ ᎠᏂᏬᏂ They Are Still Talking” is a Maura García Dance Cherokee cultural reclamation project focusing on the roles and rights of women and two-spirit people. At its core the project is an ancestral invocation, featuring an Indigenous foods feast, movement-based Cherokee language classes, small-group talks and culminating in a multimedia dance performance.

Youngdeer is the youngest certified Cherokee Nation Literacy Educator and Language/Life-ways Consultant. She specializes in the Total Physical Response method of language immersion education. Youngdeer is certified as a master teacher and has assisted with various Cherokee Humanities and Language courses through Northeastern State University, the Cherokee Heritage Center, as well as the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Previously she assisted in the Cultural and Community Outreach Program through the Community Services Department at Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Youngdeer is a first language Cherokee speaker, and as such has visited a number of at-large communities throughout the United States as a cultural and goodwill Ambassador for the Cherokee Nation. She is active in the governance of the Kituwah Cherokee Ceremonial Grounds, of which she is a member, and is working to create a Cherokee Language Immersion School for the area.

“They Are Still Talking” will include a dance performance, a talk about the process and elements, and facilitated group and break out sessions to discuss the performance and concepts addressed.

Campus and community audiences will be subject to Denison Covid restrictions and guidelines in place at the time.

The Laura C. Harris Series theme for 2021-22, “Imagining Together: Indigenous Activisms & Feminisms,” seeks to deepen our knowledge and campus engagement with complex issues in indigeneity, indigenous feminisms, and indigenous-led approaches to solving pressing global and local problems, including Ohio indigenous histories.

Indigenous scholars and activists point to the gendered impacts of settler colonialism and genocide. These include gender-based and sexualized violence in the forcible displacement of Indigenous peoples from land and natural resources, distortions and deliberate destruction of social structures and kinship networks, and the demonizing and erasure of indigenous ways of knowing and being in the world.


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