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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


April 3, 2004 - Issue 110


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Kahente Horn-Miller a Role Model for Higher Learning

by Kenneth L. Williams - The Eastern Door

Kahente Horn-MillerKahente Horn-Miller has been pursuing her post-secondary education since 1991, with an emphasis on Onkwehonwe culture. She is currently in her first year of the Humanities Doctoral Program at Concordia, and is also active on a committee working to establish a Native Studies program for that university, pointing out that Quebec is the only province without such a program in place.

Horn-Miller elaborated on a number of topics. One, in particular, was the Warrior Flag. The flag was actually the subject of Horn-Miller's thesis for her master's degree in anthropology, which she completed last year. She explained that, for Onkwehonwe, the flag represents a combination of unity and resistance, and serves as a reminder of our connections and responsibilities to one another as original Peoples.

This differs greatly from the generally negative connotation of the flag, which is all-too-often presented by the mainstream media. Horn-Miller cited the writings and paintings of Karonhiaktajeh (Louis Hall) as being an important influence on her studies, along with the time she spent in the community of Esgenoopetitj (Burnt Church), doing research on the Mi'kmaq use of the flag during their lobster dispute.

There were a number of other important points, which followed from Horn-Miller's discussion of the flag. To begin with, she spoke about the importance of replacing negative stereotypes with positive ones, explaining how higher education could provide a means for dialogue between First Nations and non-Natives. She tied together the need for a Native Studies program and the need for such dialogue, pointing out how important it is to have an input in what continues to be written about our People, in order to change the misconceptions and stereotypes that have been entrenched in academia. As Horn-Miller put it, this is about using the education system to our own advantage.

As far as instituting a Native Studies program is concerned, Horn-Miller sees a lot of opportunity to make changes in the standard academic formats. Use of Kanienkeha, and other Onkwehonwe languages and concepts, as well as ceremony and oration in the writing process, could help students and other academics get a better understanding of our culture. Apart from the influence a Native Studies program could have on the academic stage in general, Horn-Miller also talked about how the cultural relevance of such programs could help to make Onkwehonwe students feel more comfortable with the university environment.

In discussing her own university experience, Horn-Miller described Concordia as being better suited to her than a larger institution, such as McGill, or the University of British Columbia, where she began her undergraduate studies in anthropology.

Horn-Miller also discussed the influence of family. She mentioned that having a child during her days as an undergraduate had the effect of putting her on a more equal footing with the faculty as a parent, which gave her added insight and allowed her to contribute more to discussion. Parenthood meant she would then have to learn from the perspective of what benefit education in her community, and in an academic institution, would have for her children.

As for Horn-Miller's own studies, she credits her mother with having taken a great interest in her success from the very beginning. Horn-Miller stressed the responsibility of parents to get involved with their children's education, even in doing something as simple as driving them to school to make sure they get there.

Horn-Miller expects to finish her doctorate in the spring of 2008, with intentions of teaching at the university level, and of continuing with research and writing on issues relevant to First Nations. She is the daughter of Kahn Tineta Horn of Kahnawake, and George Miller of Six Nations. Now 31, Horn-Miller has two children of her own - Karonhioko'he, 10, and Kokowa, 4. She also works part-time as a research assistant for KSDPP.

In addition to her studies, Horn-Miller also has an interest in creative writing. She will be taking part in a panel at this year's Blue Metropolis Festival, for Onkwehonwe writers, hosted by Taiaiake Alfred. The panel will be called "Wampum and the Written Word: Connected by Memory." The event is set to take place at the Hyatt Hotel in Montreal on April 3. Meanwhile, Horn-Miller's work has been published in both the academic and non-academic milieus. Her aforementioned thesis is entitled: "The Emergence of the Mohawk Warrior Flag: A symbol of Indigenous unification and impetus to assertion of identity and rights commencing in the Kanienkehaka community of Kahnawake",

She has also written a paper called "Bring us back into the dance: Women of the Wasase," which appeared in "Colonize this! Young women of colour on today's feminism." Published by Seal Press.

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