Native presence at Yale is celebrated during Henry Roe Cloud conference

The fifth Henry Roe Cloud conference will be held on campus Nov. 10-12, and will conclude with a powwow.
A young Henry Roe Cloud poses in front of a tent.

A young Henry Roe Cloud poses in front of a tent. (Courtesy of Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University Library)

A panel discussion about the reclaiming of indigenous languages and a celebratory powwow are among the events that will take place during the university’s fifth Henry Roe Cloud Conference, which celebrates Native excellence at Yale and pays tribute to Yale’s first known Native American graduate.

After graduating from Yale College in 1910, Henry Roe Cloud, a member of the Winnebago Nation of Nebraska, became a prominent educator and national advocate for Native American people. The Association of Native Americans at Yale (ANAAY) hosts a conference in his honor every few years to bring together Native students, alumni, faculty, and community members.

The conference will take place Friday-Sunday, Nov. 10-12. Registration will take place 6-8 p.m. on Friday evening at the Native American Cultural Center, 26 High St., and tours of the center will be offered during this time.

The conference will begin at 4 p.m. on Friday with a Pierson College tea featuring Philip “Sam” Deloria ’64 in conversation with Ned Blackhawk, professor of history and American studies at Yale. Deloria is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who has been active in Native American politics and served as director of the American Indian Law Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for 35 years. He is also a former director of the American Indian Graduate Center in Albuquerque. In addition, he was a founder and the first secretary-general of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples and one of the founders of the Commission on State-Tribal Relations. He was the first-ever recipient of Yale’s Henry Roe Cloud Medal in 2005.

Saturday’s events include a welcome and opening remarks by members of the Native community at Yale at 9:30 a.m. in Luce Hall, 34 Hillhouse Ave. Immediately afterwards, there will be a panel discussion featuring alumni from various eras of the Native community at Yale about their experiences with their indigenous languages. This will be followed by a panel of current students involved in the Native American Cultural Center discussing the present and future of the Native American Language Program.

At 1 p.m., George Miles, curator of the Western American Collection at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and Judith Schiff, chief research archivist at Sterling Memorial Library, will give a special presentation about library collections of interest to Native students, scholars, and others. This will take place in a lower-level classroom at the Beinecke Library, 121 Wall St.

This Is Who I Am,” a film by Kalvin Hartwig about preserving indigenous identity in a mainstream culture, will be screened at 3:30 p.m. at the Native American Cultural Center.

Members of the Native student and alumni communities, as well as conference guests, will have opportunities to mingle during a breakfast, a tour of Pauli Murray College, and a gala dinner at the Quinnipiac Club, at which ANAAY will announce the recipients of the Henry Roe Cloud Distinguished Alumni Award and Friend of the Community Award. The dinner takes place at 6 p.m.

The conference will conclude with Yale’s sixth powwow at noon on Sunday at Coxe Cage, and dancing will continue until 4 p.m. Shuttle buses will leave from the front of Payne Whitney Gymnasium to Coxe Cage, 257 Derby Ave. All are welcome to attend the free event. Doors open at 11 a.m.

For a complete schedule, visit the conference website. For questions about this year’s conference, email

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