WSU Hosts 14th Annual Native Symposium

OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University will host a series of events to honor the stories and culture of Native Americans at the 14th Annual Native Symposium, Nov. 4, 5 and 14. All events are free, and the public is invited.

The theme of this year’s symposium, “The Coded Stories Through a Forbidden Language,” will focus on the contributions of Navajo Code Talkers during WWII. Events include a sunrise ceremony, a keynote address from a Navajo Code Talker and a free film screening of “True Whispers.”

“This is an opportunity for us to begin understanding the impact and importance of language acquisition and loss — and why language matters even when we do not understand it,” said Adrienne Andrews, Assistant Vice President for Diversity. “Language is a gift of culture, history and heritage, and it is used to create and craft a future. Erasing language erases identity and community.”

A sunrise ceremony with Eileen Quintana, a Navajo spiritual leader, will take place on Nov. 4 at 8:30 a.m. at the Ada Lindquist Plaza (north of Miller Administration). A light breakfast for participants will follow in the Center for Diversity & Unity, Shepherd Union Room 232. The breakfast is free, but attendees are asked to RSVP at

Quintana is a Title VI Education Program manager at the Nebo School District. She works to increase graduation rates among American Indian students as well as to integrate performing arts and culture into student success.

Peter Macdonald Sr. will give the keynote address, Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. in the Shepherd Union Wildcat Theater. Macdonald served in the Marines during World War II as a Navajo Code Talker. He is currently the Navajo Code Talkers Association president.

A free film screening of “True Whispers” will take place Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. in the Shepherd Union Wildcat Theater. The film explores the stories of young Navajo men recruited into the Marines during World War II. Known as the Navajo Code Talkers, the men devised a system of codes in their native language that were used to transmit vital messages during the war.

The symposium is held annually to celebrate November’s Native American Heritage Month, which honors the culture, history and contributions of Native Americans. It also raises awareness to the challenges faced and how they have worked to overcome those challenges.

“This is an opportunity for us to learn living history from each other,” Andrews said. “We must empower people to use language to describe their history and world in ways that recognize and celebrate their value.”

Calendar of Events

Nov. 4

  • 8:30 a.m., sunrise ceremony, Ada Lindquist Plaza (north of Miller Administration).
  • 9 a.m., breakfast, Center for Diversity & Unity, Shepherd Union Room 232, free. RSVP:  
  • 10:30 a.m., workshop, “Teaching the Navajo Language & History through the Lens of a Navajo Teacher,” Shepherd Union 316.

Nov. 5

  • 5-5:45 p.m., mixer, Shepherd Union Fireplace Lounge.
  • 6-7:15 p.m., keynote and Q&A, Shepherd Union Wildcat Theater.
  • 7:30-8 p.m., book signing, Shepherd Union Fireplace Lounge.

Nov. 6

  • 5:00 p.m., film screening and discussion, “True Whispers,” Shepherd Union Wildcat Theater.

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Andrea Hernández, Diversity & Inclusive Programs coordinator
801-626-6957 •

Tashina Barber, Center for Multicultural Excellence, multicultural counselor
801-626-7367 •


Shaylee Stevens, Office of Marketing & Communications
801-626-7948 •