Festival of Ideas to celebrate Native culture

Annual event includes history lecture, powwow and keynote speech from bestselling author

Thursday, Feb 29, 2024 • Cristal Gonzalez : contact

2022 Powwow photo

The College of Liberal Arts’ (COLA) 2024 Festival of Ideas will celebrate and honor Native American culture with a lecture from an expert on Native history, a keynote speech from a bestselling Indigenous author and the Native American Student Association’s 28th annual powwow.

Paul Conrad
Paul Conrad

Paul Conrad, associate professor of history, will be discussing the importance of Indigenous peoples in key moments in Texas history in his talk “Why You Can’t Understand Texas History Without Native Americans.” The talk will be hosted in the University Center’s Concho Room from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. on Feb. 29.

On Saturday, March 2, the Native American Student Association will host its 28th Annual Scholarship Benefit Powwow from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. in the Maverick Activities Center (MAC). Members of Native American tribes from across Texas and Oklahoma will gather for one of the biggest powwows in Texas. The event is free and open to the public and will include vendors, dancers, singers, men’s and women’s community contests, tacos and fry bread, Native arts and crafts and more.

New York Times bestselling author David Treuer will close this year’s Festival of Ideas with his keynote on March 5 from 12:30 – 2 p.m. in the MAC. The Guggenheim fellow is Ojibwe from the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. His book, “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee,” was a 2019 finalist for both the National Book Award and Carnegie Medal. He is an English professor at the University of Southern California and has a background in anthropological history.

David Treuer
David Treuer

“Dr. Treuer is the perfect intersection of three disciplines, with his creative nonfiction writing style and his background in anthropology and history,” said Rebecca Deen, senior associate dean in COLA and professor of political science. “With the help of our Department of History and Assistant Dean Les Riding-In, we we’re able to put together this wonderful series of events, the Festival of Ideas.”

What began in 2005 with a generous donation by UTA alumnus Mustaque Ahmed (’81) has grown into an endowment funding dynamic programing that showcases unique aspects of the arts, humanities and social sciences. Deen said the Festival of Ideas has helped highlight the breadth and complexity of all that happens in COLA.

“My hope is attendees feel the excitement of learning and discovering new things, and that it encourages them to take another opportunity to learn something they didn't naturally have an inclination toward,” Deen said. “I want more people to become more intellectually curious.”

Events run from Feb. 29 through March 5. More details are available on the Festival of Ideas webpage.