The 2014 Pre-Conquest Indigenous Cultures and the Aftermath (PICA) Conference is a collaborative celebration of the histories of local multiracial and multicultural groups. In 2013, PICA was created as a collaborative effort between a group of students, faculty, and community members from the University of Washington’s American Ethnic Studies department, OCA-Greater Seattle (formerly Organization of Chinese Americans), and Heritage University of Yakima, Washington.

“PICA is an opportunity for all people of color to learn about our history as told by people of color,” said Angelo Salgado, PICA’s 2014 chair.

This year’s conference focuses on the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

“[The legislation] is a pivotal act in U.S. history and we want to celebrate and share the stories that rarely get taught in the American school systems,” Salgado said.

The three-day event will include films, presentations, entertainment, food, and more.

OCA—Greater Seattle vice president and UW Ethnic Studies professor Connie So met with Heritage University’s Winona Wynn last April to discuss plans for a coalition event to celebrate ethnic cultures.

The month of November was important for them because it included Native American Heritage Month. So said they wanted to emphasize the events that took place before the conquest. This conference is also an opportunity for people to share their personal stories of struggle.

Last year’s inaugural event focused on the international heroes of Asia and celebrated cultures prior to the colonization.

This year’s schedule includes the Native American Heritage Month Potlatch on Friday, November 7 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at South Shore K-8 School. There will be a presentation on the legacy of Billy Frank, Jr. and the Judge Boldt decision, a presentation on Bernie Whitebear, and other activities.

On Saturday, November 8 from 9:00 a.m. to noon, Purple Dot Café will be hosting “40 Year Celebration: Community Builders in Action,” which includes a showing of International Examiner’s new office in the Bush Hotel. There will also be a showing of films about human trafficking and other relevant issues.

“Journalism is still important and it’s taking new forms,” said Ron Chew, International Examiner’s board president and OCA-Greater Seattle board member. “The International Examiner is experimenting with a more vibrant online presence, integrating videos, and public forms of communications in its news delivery. It’s an exciting time.”

Early pioneers of the newspaper were community activists who wanted to provide a vehicle for promoting the restoration and preservation of the International District.

Early in the newspaper’s history, in 1975, the Alaska Cannery Workers Association (ACWA) acquired the International Examiner. The ACWA was founded by Nemesio and Silme Domingo and other young Asian and Native American cannery workers as a way to combat racial discrimination in the canneries. Once the newspaper had grown enough to be self-sufficient, the International Examiner parted ways with ACWA and became an independent entity in 1978.

“The International Examiner has been a solid voice for social justice and community empowerment for 40 years,” said Chew, also a former editor of the newspaper.

The International Examiner recently moved from the Nippon Kan building to the Bush Hotel in September. Chew explained that it was a great opportunity to move closer to the heart of the neighborhood and the Bush Hotel was a good location because it is an International District landmark and was the home of the community center back in 1975.

Another aspect of the PICA conference involves an OCA Luncheon on November 11, Veteran’s Day. The luncheon will honor veterans at Venus Chinese Restaurant from 10:30 a.m. to noon. There will be a civil rights tribute to notable activists who helped shaped our communities, with special guests from the Cathay Post. Chew will also be speaking at this event.

“This conference was built on the need to collaborate,” Salgado said. “The ideas do not solely land on the organizers. We rely on the ideas of the community and many get involved in the planning of the events. It’s also space where individuals and groups can share their stories in a showcase of different forms. This is done using oral stories, dance, art, food, music and any medium one chooses to share. To make it accessible to everyone, we wanted to make the events free for all.”

Salgado said he hopes that the conference will inspire others to share their stories because those stories are what connects us all. “[Stories] are a tool of empowerment and they need to be shared,” he said.

For more information, visit http://picaseattle.weebly.com.

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