KHS Guest Speaker, September 30
Dr. Jonathan Hook, an official citizen of the Cherokee Nation and author of The Alabama Coushatta Indians, was featured as a guest speaker at Kountze High School September 30th. Hook earned his Doctorate at the University of Houston, is a past Superintendent of Tribal Education Programs for the Kickapoo Tribe of Texas, a past Director of the Office of Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs, US EPA, Region 6 and a co-founder and President of the American Indian Resource Center. He served as a Keynote Speaker at the Indigenous Session of the 2015 Climate Change UNESO Conference in Paris, France. Dr. Hook played football at West Point and Wheaton College. He is a Cherokee Ceremonial Singer and has performed as part of the Houston Symphony Chorus and University of Houston Choir.
Dr. Hook connected with approximately 250 students through six programs, by watching the Homecoming Parade and by attending the 8th grade and high school football games. His strong message shared the importance of community and relationships and a holistic approach to an understanding of the needs of Mother Earth, a message adopted in the “Redstone Statement.” He feels that the environment is at a critical tipping point. Hooks shared slides of his work around the world with native tribes and in Paraguay and the challenges impacting their lives. He strives to preserve Indian history, culture, language and the environment and believes all are interrelated. When protecting, one cannot separate the land, from the water, from the air, from the people. Hook encouraged students to develop relationships and to build rather than put up barriers. He shared that they can explore opportunities and internships and that each one could make a difference. The grand finale of the day was a dance performed by students in a lively eighth period class.
On Saturday Dr. Hook was featured as a book signer at the Big Thicket National Preserve’s NPS Centennial Celebration and presented a program hosted by the local Thicket of Diversity on Climate Change and Indigenous People.