Native Voices Visits Tarrant County College

A male American kestrel bird shows off for the camera.

A male American kestrel shows off for the camera.

FT. WORTH, TX—The Native Voices traveling exhibition’s visit to Tarrant County College-Southeast Campus (TCC) included three programs hosted by TCC’s Judith J. Carrier Library, including one popular session about the health of local raptors.

To honor the respect of wildlife among Native Americans, TCC hosted Erich Neupert, the executive director of the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center, on September 5. Neupert discussed raptors’ adaptations to hunt and exist in North Texas’ woodlands, wetlands, and prairies.

Neupert showed several birds, including an American kestrel, a barred owl, a screech owl, a red-shouldered hawk, and a red-tailed hawk. The screech owl (ironically named Sweetpea) occasionally terrifies the Raptor Center’s volunteers who work with her because of the owl’s formidable shriek.

Neupert explained raptors play important roles in controlling populations of unwanted creatures in North Texas homes, such as mice and roaches.

A small screech owl, mouth open, perches on a man's gloved hand.

Sweetpea, a screech owl, chastises Erich Neupert, her handler.

Neupert, the executive director of the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center, noted North Texas’ population growth and the subsequent loss of natural habitat are the biggest threats to area birds. While some raptors can adapt to close proximity to humans, Neupert said others move to less populated areas. Neupert added some raptors, including Sweetpea, have adapted to blend with the bark color of North Texas’ native trees. The loss of local trees, he explained, often means screech owls, as well as some other birds, either become prey or move to a new habitat.

The Blackland Prairie Raptor Center’s mission is to rehabilitate birds of prey and to educate the public about their current and historic environmental importance. The Blackland Prairie Raptor Center is located in Allen, Texas and contains a hospital, which has received 600 birds this year.

In conjunction with the Raptor Center’s visit, TCC hosted two sessions just for students at Arlington Collegiate High School. Arlington Collegiate High School is located on the TCC campus, which enables students to graduate with a high school and an associate degree in four years. About 200 students attended the two special sessions.

Lisa Barnett, PhD, Texas Christian University, also lectured at TCC’s Carrier Library about the issues associated with the controversial use of peyote as a part of American Indian religious ceremonies (during the late 19th and early 20th centuries). Barnett’s speech was co-sponsored by the TCC Southeast Campus Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences, the Department of History, the Judith J. Carrier Library, and the Native Voices exhibition.

Traveling exhibition panels and book display

The Native Voices display at the Judith J. Carrier Library, Tarrant County College

The Carrier Library additionally sponsored a discussion of a documentary about the former, common placement of Native American children in foster care. The discussion was moderated by Ruthann Geer, TCC instructor of government, and Sharon Wettengel, TCC assistant professor of sociology. The film, Reclaiming Our Children, notes that prior to the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978, Native American children were placed in foster care at a significantly higher rate than other US demographic groups. Reclaiming Our Children examines the impact of the Indian Child Welfare Act, the child welfare system, and the laws, policies, and attitudes that impact Native families.

The Native Voices exhibition was displayed from late August to the end of September in the main section of the Judith J. Carrier Library. The Carrier Library is named for TCC-Southeast’s first president.

TCC is an open access college that serves both students and the surrounding community within Tarrant County, which is a metropolitan area that includes Ft. Worth and Arlington. TCC currently enrolls about 100,000 undergraduate students on six campuses. TCC-Southeast enrolls about 12,000 students. Among its 14 degree programs in arts and sciences, TCC offers associate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, as well as health sciences.

 

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