News Bureau | University of Illinois

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign logo


2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008
Email to a friend envelope icon for send to a friend

American Indian Day to be observed Sept. 4

Jeff Unger, News Bureau
(217) 333-1085;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Three leaders from the American Indian community in Chicago will visit the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Sept. 4 (Wednesday) to participate in a discussion of current events affecting the American Indian community in Chicago as well as the community's history.

Joseph Podlasek, the executive director of the American Indian Center, is of Ojibwe and Polish descent. He became the director of the center in February 2001 after having served as technical engineer for the Chicago Historical Society.

Ansel Deon is the cultural coordinator of the center.

Robert Smith is community organizer for the Coalition of the Chicago American Indian Community.

The event, which will be from noon to 1 p.m. in Room A of the Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana, is in recognition of American Indian Day. Gov. George Ryan signed a resolution last year establishing the annual observance.

An active member of the center and Chicago’s American Indian community since 1989, Podlasek played a key role in the design and launch of the center's Web site ( He has served as co-chair of the center's annual powwow. The powwow is the center’s largest cultural education event of the year.

The center, founded in 1953, is the oldest urban American Indian center in the United States. It is committed to promoting the well-being, education and economic development of Chicago’s American Indian community. The center’s programs include food pantry services, cultural school tours, a community youth group (Urban Natives of Chicago), local artists and computer training classes.