Yale Native students host all-Ivy summit

Kicking off November’s Native Heritage Month, the Association of Native Americans at Yale (ANAAY) will host the annual Ivy Native Summit the weekend of Nov. 4-6.

The summit, organized entirely by students, will focus on the theme “Indigenous Feminisms: Helping Each Other Grow.” It is the largest gathering of Native American college undergraduates in the Northeast and provides an opportunity for education, socializing, and community-building among Native students. More than 150 undergraduates and about 25 graduate and professional students are registered.

Yale President Peter Salovey will greet the group the morning of Nov. 5, along with Kelly Fayard, assistant dean of Yale College and director of the Native American Cultural Center.

The first featured speaker will be Katsi Cook, a Mohawk midwife who will discuss her work as a women’s healthcare advocate. Lisa Kahaleole Hall, a Native Hawaiian professor of women’s and gender studies at Wells College and Cornell, will discuss the intersection of race, colonialism, and indigeneity in her field. Navajo activist Amanda Blackhorse will discuss her work in the successful revocation of the Washington football team trademark, and Dio Ganhdih, a queer Cherokee and Mohawk rapper and hip-hop producer, will consider how to reconstruct modern indigenous narratives in the context of individual identity and hip-hop.

That evening’s dinner will include a social event with Native undergraduates and families from nearby communities. It will feature drumming and dancing, and participants are invited to bring regalia and traditional wear. The organizers have planned an informal mentorship activity for Native high school students in the area, a new addition to the agenda.

The Ivy Native Council chose Yale to host this year’s summit because of the proposed theme, which was inspired in part by the Yale College course Indigenous Feminisms, taught by American Studies Ph.D. candidate Tyler Rogers.

“For many of us, Indigenous Feminisms marked the first time learning about our sisters, our aunts, our heroes as part of our formal education. The summit is meant to bring what we learned in the classroom to the broader community of Native students in the Northeast,” said Katherine McCleary ’18, ANAAY president and a member of the Little Shell Tribe of the Chippewa Cree. “I’m very excited to meet the powerful women we’ve asked to speak at the summit. With very few Native staff and faculty at Yale, I think it’s vital that we bring Native professionals to campus. It’s an opportunity to not only speak with them about their work but also about how they’ve learned to navigate non-indigenous spaces.”

Haylee Kushi ’18, another summit organizer, said “I am looking forward to hearing from indigenous feminist scholar and Yale College alum Lisa Kahaleole Hall. In one of her works, she talks about having been the only Hawaiian in most educational settings she’s been in. As a Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) feminist in Yale College, I’m excited to finally hear from a scholar I can so strongly identify with.” Kushi designed the summit logo, which incorporates the silhouette of corn, squash, and beans growing together, referred to as “Three Sisters” in Navajo, Hopi, Iroquois, and Southeastern U.S. tribes.

Schools that will be represented at the summit are Bowdoin, Brown, Carleton, Columbia, Community Charter School of Cambridge, Cornell, Dartmouth, Dickinson College, Duke, Harvard, McGill, New York University, Penn State, SUNY Canton, Swarthmore College, and the University of Pennsylvania. The Ivy Native Council is a group of Native student representatives from the Ivy league and other peer institutions.

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