(June 19, 2013)

Students explore ancient cultural and religious practices during May Module

SHREVEPORT, LA — Professors Spencer Dew and Edward Ragan explored "Ancient Native American Religion" for the 2013 May Module with a group of Centenary students. This three-week course allowed students the opportunity to explore nearby sites of Ancient Native American cultures.

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Demonstration at Poverty Point

In addition to classroom discussion and lectures, the course also had travel components. The students and faculty took two excursions to areas where ancient cultures resided: the Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park in Central Arkansas and the Poverty Point National Monument in Northeast Louisiana. While at Poverty Point, the students not only had the opportunity to explore the vast area, but they also had opportunities to re-enact daily life activities of the ancient peoples. Senior Keaton Roberson had this to write about one interactive demonstration:

"My hunting skills got called into question later when we went outside for the atlatl demonstration. Our guide, Cleyon, showed us how to attach the device to a spear and proceeded to pierce a bale of hay straight in the center. I can't throw worth anything and my part was a complete disaster, but it made the experience fun and engaging."

The trip to Poverty Point ended with an excursion to the top of bird mound, a massive earthwork created by the area's ancient inhabitants. Separated from the luxuries of modern society, the students had a chance to contemplate what life would be like for these ancient groups. Roberson felt a strong sense of respect while atop the mound.

"Upon arriving at the top of the bird mound overlooking Poverty Point, I began to feel a strange connection with the nature around me. I became a little emotionally pulled imagining what ancient life must have been like for the people over Poverty Point. I couldn't be anything other than incredibly impressed by the sheer feat of having built such a monument, and I had a gained a sense of respect (and unity too, perhaps) with the land around me. I left there reluctant that I had to go."

By participating in a May Module, Centenary students fulfill their requirements for Trek, an innovative program through which all Centenary students participate in experiential learning by exploring opportunities in the areas of career, culture, and community.