Skip navigation

2015 Convention Stories

Memories and Remembrance

Alison GoodwinAlison Goodwin
Outgoing President, Alpha Tau Phi Chapter
University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

". . . but, look now,
there are flowers
and new grass
and a spring wind
from Sand Creek."

Following Simon Ortiz’s wonderful speech last night, today, the convention theme of "Borderlands and Enchantments" percolated into concurrent sessions and speaker presentations. I served as chair of the “From Sand Creek Reponses” session, which included a presenter from the American University of Kuwait, a master’s student from Louisiana, and UO’s very own Sean Pebler, among two others. My duties as chair included talking to the student presenters beforehand and introducing each one before they presented. I found the presentations enriching and the discussion enlightening and insightful.

Alison Goodwin and Simon OrtizEach paper was about the convention's Common Reader, Simon Ortiz’s From Sand Creek, a collection of poems about the Sand Creek Massacre of upwards of 130 indigenous people by the American militia in 1864. Most papers, and Simon Ortiz’s fantastically moving speech last night, had some aspect of the theme of universality, inclusiveness, and a shared, collective memory. These themes of colonialism and remembering have unintentionally remained a consistent theme for our chapter’s reading group this year. From Alice Oswald’s Memorial, to Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, to From Sand Creek, we have discussed the themes of memorializing and grappling with the notion of progressing forward from a deep trauma both as an individual and as a collective group. To see these themes unpacked further, but with a brand new set of eyes bringing in new opinions and backgrounds, was very intriguing. For example, the student from Kuwait brought in the comparison of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in relation to Ortiz’s work and it lit up the room. It was as if the captivating conversations we had been conducting all these weeks in Eugene was transplanted into Albuquerque, but expanded and strengthened with a variety of perspectives and approaches. Personally, it was really rewarding to see these ideas we had been talking about reevaluated in a new light with ideas from around the country and across the world.

As chapter president, I was proud to see my fellow Ducks’ performances and witness the place we partook in representing the University of Oregon in these conversations. I would even go so far as to say my experience was enchanting.