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Through Indian eyes
This 1904 painting of Sacajawea is by Edgar S. Paxson, one of the painters represented in UM's "Centennial and Bicentennial" exhibit. A reception is Wednesday on campus.

Conference offers other perspectives on the journey of Lewis and Clark

A significant conference - two years in the planning - begins at the University of Montana on Wednesday, May 28, and continues Thursday and Friday.

"A Confluence of Cultures: Native Americans and the Expedition of Lewis and Clark" takes a look at the cross-country voyage of the explorers through the eyes of Indians whose ancestors' lives intersected with the two men and their travels.

Organized by UM and the Montana Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission, the symposium is open to all and is designed to stimulate learning through lectures, cultural presentations, art exhibits and more. A $40 entry fee - which ensures access to any of the programs save the final dinner, which costs $20 more - covers all three days of the conference.

Registration is under way now; on opening day, Wednesday, registration tables will be open in the University Center starting at 9 a.m.

A short schedule of events includes:

Wednesday, May 28

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Vendor art fair, University Center Atrium

9 a.m. - Registration at the University Center begins.

1 p.m. - Welcome ceremony in the UC Ballroom.

3-4:30 p.m. - Research presentations in various locations.

5-8 p.m. - Art exhibit opening in the Performing Arts, Radio/TV Center.

7:30 p.m. - Comedian Charlie Hill in the University Theater, near the UM Music Building.

Thursday, May 29

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Vendor art fair, UC Atrium

9 a.m. - Research presentations.

10:30 a.m. - Keynote presentation.

12: 30 p.m. - Traditional lunch.

2:30-3:30 p.m. - Research presentations.

4-5:30 p.m. - Research presentations.

7-10 p.m. - Theatrical performances.

Friday, May 30

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Vendor art fair, UC Atrium

9 a.m. - Research presentations.

10:30 a.m. - Keynote presentation.

2:30 p.m. - Research presentations.

3:30 p.m. - Response time.

5 p.m. - Final banquet.

7-10 p.m. - Musical, dance performances.

Research presentations include "Big Medison: York's Life During and After the Lewis and Clark Expedition," "Lewis and Clark: America's First Dead-beat Dads," "The Myth of the Chief: Examining Concepts of Leadership," "Contemporary Voices Along the Lewis and Clark Trail," "Sacagawea: My Friend," and "Native Tobacco."

The conference was the brainchild of two Indian men: UM law Professor Ray Cross, a Mandan-Hidatsa, and Darrell Kipp, a Blackfeet and founder of the Piegan Institute and Nizipuhwahsin Language School in Browning.

Two special arts events are slated Wednesday:

From 5-8 p.m. is a reception for the Montana Museum of Arts and Culture's Summer Showcase exhibit, "Centennial and Bicentennial: Historical Works from the Permanent Collection and Contemporary Works by Native American Artists."

Another show - "Their Eyes Tell Everything," photographs of Montana Chippewa-Crees collected by John Well-Off-Man - also is on view in the PAR/TV Center.

The shows and reception are in the galleries located in the Performing Arts, Radio/Television Center.

Wednesday's featured evening performer is comedian and lecturer Charlie Hill, who has made six appearances on "The Tonight Show," was a head writer for "Roseanne" and who has twice been voted No. 1 Indian Entertainer of the Year.

"My point," says Hill on his Web site, "is to always laugh with Indian people and not at us. … Anytime I am in front of an Indian audience, I take the approach I am front of royalty. My favorite crowds are Indian colleges and Indian elders: Elders are fun, and they've seen it all. I got my hardest-hitting joke from the elders."

The Hill appearance starts at 7:30 p.m. in the University Theater, near the music building on campus. Parking could be tricky: The same night, Pearl Jam is playing at the Adams Center.

The $40 registration fee includes entrance to Hill's act. A limited number of Charlie-Hill-only tickets ($10) will be available at the University Theater box office at 7:15 p.m.

Cultural events Thursday and Friday will include theatrical performances by representatives of the Mandan/Hidatsa Nation; Carayiit Dancers from Alaska; schoolchildren from Great Falls presenting a play especially for the conference; Montana musicians and poets involved in a long-term arts project called "Rent Party Improv," students from the St. Labre Indian School performing a chief and war-bonnet dance; and demonstrations of Indian songs and dance, among other presentations.

For a complete schedule, see To register, call (406) 243-6093 or request a registration form by e-mailing

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