Joe Candillo, of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, is the guest of honor for the West Virginia University Native American Studies Program’s annual Peace Tree Ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 27. He will spend the week giving presentations on campus and throughout the community.

The ceremony is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at the WVU Peace Tree located between Martin and Elizabeth Moore halls on WVU’s downtown campus. In case of rain, the ceremony will be held in the Mountainlair.

Candillo’s public lecture, “The Enchanted Yoemem of Northwest Mexico and the Desert Southwest,” takes place later that day at 6 p.m. in 126 Ming Hsieh Hall. Other ceremony guests include flute player Rick Rivard, Thunder (a bald eagle from the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center), and ONAI Drum (from the student Organization for Native American Interests). The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and the President’s Office for Social Justice are co-sponsoring this year’s Peace Tree Ceremony and lecture.

Candillo—a cultural educator, artist, and exhibit designer with degrees in anthropology and American Indian Studies—is completing his doctoral dissertation on Native American material culture practices at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York.

“As we come together to celebrate diversity we may also take time to acknowledge our similarities,” Candillo said of the ceremony. “This allows us to approach the concept of peace with unity. WVU’s Native American Studies Program shares an important vision with me: affording Native people a platform to share their diverse cultural ways with others, increasing our mutual understanding.”

The Peace Tree Ceremony is held annually to commemorate the 1992 planting of WVU’s first Peace Tree by Chief Leon Shenandoah (Tadodaho, Haudenosaunnee, Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy), during the 500th anniversary of Columbus arriving in North America.

The public is also invited to attend a reception in Candillo’s honor at Arts Monongahela, 201 High Street, beginning at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 25. The gathering is centered around the Jackson Kelly Gallery’s current exhibit, “Reflections: Homage to Dunkard Creek,” a collaborative installation art project created by 90 artists commemorating the loss of 90 species killed during the creek’s 2009 toxic algae bloom. At 6 p.m. Candillo will share some traditional Native American views on the role of humans in the natural environment, including the idea of respect for all of creation. This event is sponsored by Miller Environmental, Inc., of Morgantown.

On Wednesday, Oct. 26, a teaching luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m. -1p.m. in Room B of Hatfield’s cafeteria in the Mountainlair. Candillo will be part of the discussion when a panel of three WVU graduate students share their recent experiences working with Native American groups utilizing a collaborative process of community-based, participatory research. Audience members are invited to bring their lunch and join the discussion.

The students presenters are: educational psychology master’s student Melanie Hockenberry (Wheeling), who worked with San Carlos Apache youth; public health sciences doctoral candidate Karen Manzo (Rivesville), who works with the Montana –Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council; and public health master’s student Bambi Bevill (Wheeling), who interned with the American Indian Health Research Education Alliance at the Kansas University Medical Center. The three students are respectively researching: resiliency in American Indian adolescents; American Indian youth suicide prevention; and cultural sensitivity in public health facilitation.

On Saturday, Oct. 29, Candillo will give a children’s storytelling presentation at the Morgantown Public Library from 9:30-10:30 a.m. Children will hear Native American music and take part in hands-on learning focused on animals and early tools. Candillo will also host a children’s learning station at Mountaineer Week Family Fun Day on Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. in the Mountainlair’s Vandalia Lounge. Children will learn about the art of flint-knapping, arrow making, stick games, turkey calls, and more.

All events are free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Bonnie M. Brown, Native American Studies Program Coordinator, at 304-293-4626 or, on Facebook at: WVU Native American Studies Program, or follow NAS on Twitter @WVU_NASprogram.


Bonnie M. Brown, Native American Studies Program Coordinator

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.