Center for American Indian Research and Studies
The Center for American Indian Research and Studies (CAIRS) facilitates partnerships between the faculty of Southern Miss and regional tribal governments in order to better serve the needs of the American Indian people in our area.
What do we do?
- CAIRS provides opportunities for joint ventures between the University community and members of American Indian tribes within our area, involving areas that enhance the cultural diversity of our University including education, research, service provisions, and cultural exchanges.
- Projects from CAIRS, developed in partnership with the tribes in this area, are designed so that they enhance the quality of life of Indian people. They focus on providing quality education, economic opportunities, opportunities for research on environmental, cultural, health, and education topics that are relevant in American Indian Country and are respectful of the diversity and rich culture of American Indians.
MEET OUR DIRECTORS AND AFFILIATE FACULTY
A heritage garden, in the shape of and named the Medicine Wheel, mimicking the Medicine Mountain in Wisconsin, was built on the campus at Southern Miss in 2005. The wheel is a sacred shape to Native Americans and it represents the idea that life happens in one big circle. It is also separated into four quadrants, each corresponding with a different geographical direction or feeling, and every plant has some sort of medicinal or creative value. Plants in the garden are native to Mississippi, and many have been donated by generous benefactors, including tribal members of several area tribes. These plants are thriving at Southern Miss and so are students of Southeastern American Indian origin.
Golden Eagle Inter-tribal Society
The USM Golden Eagle Inter-tribal Society (GEIS), is an student organization at USM that focuses on building community for Native students and others who are interested in what is happening in Indian Country. GEIS educates and informs our University and broader communities about the ancient, historical and contemporary presence of American Indians in the Southeast.
President, Golden Eagle Inter-tribal Society
Kaliq Dyami Sims (United Houma Nation), is a 2019 graduate of Sacred Heart Catholic School, an Ocean Engineering major, and president of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles Intertribal Society (GEIS).
Sims tells us about the what a day in the life of a GEIS member looks like: "GIES members attend Native events like powwows and festivals all over the Southeast to have fun, meet other Natives and those interested in Native events, and help to recruit Native students to Southern Miss," he said.
"GEIS members volunteer in the Southern Miss Medicine Wheel Garden pulling weeds, collecting seeds to give to other tribal communities who want to preserve our native plants, and maintaining the garden. We have opportunities to learn about the Native plants who have sustained the Natives here for thousands of years. We host a powwow, two school days and other outreach events to make sure that Southeastern community members know about Natives and Native issues here in the Southeast. As a straight dancer, I have participated in and helped coordinate the Petal Southern Miss Powwow for several years. Sims has helped out with school day and I even attended the Southern Miss School Day as an 8th grader at Sacred Heart."
Sims invites you to become a part of GEIS, and to support diversity at Southern Miss.
CAIRS and GEIS host events to engage the University community and members of American Indian tribes, increasing awareness of the Choctaw and the Indian presence within our area.
CAIRS and the Golden Eagle Inter-tribal Society host a signature annual event each spring, the Southern Miss Powwow, which is an opportunity to educate the community about American Indian culture, renew and maintain traditional ways and tribal languages, and host a stick ball tournament on the USM campus. Participants enjoy social and traditional powwow dancing, cultural presentations, as well as Indian arts, crafts and food. Powwow is a celebratory occasion anticipated not only by Native American faculty, staff and students, but by the entire community.
The Golden Eagle Inter-tribal Society hosts two school days for community 4th graders, usually in April and November, so they can play games and make crafts inspired by Native American culture in order to learn more about the American Indians.
The Golden Eagle Inter-tribal Society hosts ceremonies where they teach, tend, plant and harvest in the Medicine Wheel Garden, and numerous other outreach events throughout the year.