RSU Students Present at National Conference Thanks to Cherokee Nation Support

Students posing for photo in Centennial Center.Support from the Cherokee Nation has helped three Rogers State University students attend a national conference where they were the only undergraduate students presenting during the four-day event.

Cherokee National Councilor Janees Taylor was on campus in February as the students received $1,500 to underwrite their participation in the 38th Annual Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference held Feb. 15-18 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Jeffrey Jackson, a business administration – entrepreneurship sophomore from Chouteau, Abigail Thibodeaux, a political science sophomore from Pryor, and Moriah Shelton, a business administration – marketing sophomore from Pryor, presented “Native Soul Creations” based on their research in Cherokee mythology at the conference.

All three students are members of the Cherokee Promise program at RSU. Funded through the Cherokee Nation, the Cherokee Promise provides nearly full funding for attending college where students are part of a cohesive, living-learning community designed to help them succeed and learn more about their Cherokee culture.

Councilor Taylor said the Cherokee Nation wanted to support the student’s conference participation because it helps tell the Cherokee story to a larger audience outside of its jurisdiction. Additionally, activities such as this promote the Cherokee’s mission to extend its history to future generations, she said.

“Our Cherokee youth are picking up where our elders have left off,” she said. “It’s vitally important to have our youth interested in the Cherokee culture and making sure that it is celebrated and preserved.”

The Cherokee Nation support was provided through a joint effort from Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Councilor Taylor, and Councilor Keith Austin. Taylor also is a member of the RSU Foundation Board of Directors.

The annual Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference promoted innovative and nontraditional academic studies celebrating America’s culture, including increasing awareness of America’s cultural traditions and diverse populations. The RSU students participated in a series of presentations focused on Native American and indigenous studies alongside a doctoral student from Pacifica Graduate Institute and a doctoral graduate from Stony Brook University.

As the RSU students developed their research, each wrote an essay over figures from Cherokee mythology and gathered artwork by Cherokee artists that visually represented those characters, Shelton said. From there, Thibodeaux said the students collaborated to develop a proposal for the conference. Once the proposal was accepted, the students refined their work and developed their presentation.

For more information about applying to the Cherokee Promise program, contact the Cherokee Nation College Resource Center at 918-453-5465 or the RSU Office of Admissions at 918-343-7546.