Yale Hosts Third Conference on Native American Studies and a Grand Pow-Wow

The third annual Yale Native American Studies conference will be held March 31 to April 2 at the Yale University School of Law.

The third annual Yale Native American Studies conference will be held March 31 to April 2 at the Yale University School of Law.

In addition to the panel discussions and keynote addresses that form the core of the conference, the weekend’s activities include a public reception and supper in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library; readings from his forthcoming novel by Gerald Vizenor, renowned author and professor of American Studies and Native American Studies at the University of California at Berkeley; and, on Sunday, a pow-wow, which will draw participants from tribal nations across the North American continent.

Organized by Jace Weaver, associate professor of American studies and religious studies at Yale, the conference takes up a different theme each year. This year, in honoring Felix Cohen, the founder of modern federal Indian law, the conference will focus on issues of Native American sovereignty. Lucy Cohen, Felix Cohen’s widow, and her family will be in attendance as honored guests at the event.

“We’re very excited both by turnout and response,” Weaver commented about the annual meeting, noting that past conferences have drawn over 250 people a day.

The conference will begin at 5 p.m., Friday, March 31, with introductory remarks by Weaver and a keynote address by Arthur Lazurus, who was a student of Felix Cohen at Yale Law School and later worked as his associate. A former Yale professor of law himself, Lazurus represented the Sioux Nation before the U.S. Supreme Court in its landmark effort to redress the government’s appropriation of the Black Hills in 1876.

The panel discussion on Saturday morning will be on the historical perspectives of legal sovereignty. Alan Trachtenberg, the Neil Gray Jr. Professor of English at Yale, will lead the morning session. The afternoon session will open with a keynote address by Oren Lyons. Internationally known for his work on Native American issues, Lyons is traditional chief and faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation of the Six Nations of the Iroquois.

Panelists in the afternoon session will take up contemporary perspectives (dating from 1934) on political, economic and environmental sovereignty. The moderator of that discussion will be Judith Resnik, the Arthur Liman Professor of Law at the Yale School of Law.

A dinner/reception on Saturday evening at Yale’s Beinecke Library will be capped off by readings by Gerald Vizenor, one of the most celebrated Native American writers, poets and essayists.

On Sunday morning, Carol Rose, the Gordon Bradford Tweedy professor of Law and Organization, will be the moderator for a panel discussion on intellectual sovereignty: frontiers of indigenous thinking.

The final event of the weekend celebration will be a pow-wow on Sunday beginning at 12:30 p.m. in the Payne Whitney Gymnasium on the Yale campus. Sponsored by the Association of Native Americans at Yale College, the pow-wow will feature a dance contest, drumming performance and authentic crafts, all in diverse Native American idioms.

The conference on Native American Studies is sponsored by the Yale Collection of Western Americana; the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library; the Howard R. Lama Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders; and the Edwin and Dorothy Clarke-Kempf Memorial Fund.

The conference, including the reception and buffet supper, is open to the public without reservation. Those who plan to attend should contact George Miles at the Beinecke Library (203) 432-2956 or e-mail george.miles@yale.edu.

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345