Five Native American tribal representatives have returned from Turkey after taking part in “Infrastructure Development Cooperation Between Turkey and Indian Country”, Istanbul Technical University’s first-ever infrastructure development forum held October 18-26.
The trip, facilitated by the Turkish Coalition of America, brought participants together with ITU's leading engineering, energy, architecture, management, and mining experts to explore areas for Turkish collaboration with tribes, while promoting ITU's unique scholarship program for Native American students.
In addition to infrastructure discussions and a networking event with ITU alumni in prominent commercial leadership roles, participants also met with representatives from the Turkish Mass Housing Authority and the Turkish Stock Exchange, and sampled traditional Turkish court music, folk music, and folkloric dances at ITU's State Music Conservatory.
A highlight of the trip was the opening reception for the photography exhibit “Native Americans: Memory of an Ottoman Connection,” organized by TCA and the Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture, and sponsored by the Istanbul Handicraft Center. The exhibit was made possible through TCA's efforts to display a sample of photographs that were gifted to Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II by the Smithsonian Institute in the 1880s. The exhibition will be on display at the historic Yildiz Palace through October 29. The reception also welcomed Huseyin Avni Karslioglu, Chief of Staff to Turkish President Abdullah Gul, and U.S. Consul General Scott Kilner.
Native American representatives also had the opportunity to screen Turkish documentary filmmaker Ece Soydam's “On the Trail of Sitting Bull” – a film about the history and the living traditions of the Sioux people. It is the only movie not produced in North America to be nominated for an award at the 36th Annual American Indian Film Festival.
The participants in the forum were:
- Karen Diver, Chairwoman, The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Minnesota
- Shawn Real Bird, Chairman, Montana State Tribal Economic Development Commission, Crow Tribe
- Ronald J. Solimon, President and CEO, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, New Mexico
- Valerian Three Irons, Professor, Native American Studies, Fort Berthold Community College, North Dakota
- Andre Gallardo, Executive Director, Tunica Biloxi Economic Development Corporation, Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana