Yoshitaka Iwasaki, a doctoral student at Osaka University, will speak about Native American Histories seen through the eyes of a foreigner at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22 at the Chickasaw Nation Cultural Center.
Iwasaki, who is working on his Ph.D. in American Indian History with a concentration on Chickasaw history, lectures extensively in Japan about American history and Native American history.
Yoshi, as his American friends call him, said he became interested in American Indians after watching American-made western movies when he was a child of 5 or 6 years of age. He said he had mixed emotions about American Indians after watching the films.
A self-described “wannabe” Indian, he said he was impressed by how “cool” they were, adding that even as a young child, he wondered why the Native Americans were treated so badly in the films.
While movies such as Stagecoach and Broken Arrow piqued his interest in Native Americans, the book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee motivated him to delve more deeply into the history of American Indian tribes.
Iwasaki has made a number of trips to the United States and the Chickasaw Nation to further his studies. In 2003, he visited the Chickasaw Nation as a Fullbright visiting scholar at the University of Oklahoma.
In Japan, his lectures use American-made movies to help explain the difference between stereotypical portrayals of American Indians and the reality of tribal culture.
His lectures also include information about little-known connections between Japanese and Native Americans.
The Chickasaw Cultural Center is located at 867 Charles Cooper Memorial Drive in Sulphur.