Fort Mojave delegation celebrates Indigenous history during Yale visit

Members of the Fort Mojave Tribal Band and Rez Life Bird Singers visited campus last weekend for a series of events celebrating Indigenous history and culture.

A delegation from the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe (FMIT), including members of its acclaimed Fort Mojave Tribal Band and Rez Life Bird Singers, visited the Yale campus over the weekend for a series of events celebrating Indigenous history and culture.

Visiting dignitaries included Ashley Hemmers ’07, the tribal administrator for the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe.

Established in 1906, the Fort Mojave Marching Band has represented the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, a sovereign Tribal Nation located in the U.S. Southwest, at major events across the United States for generations. The tribe is located along the Colorado River in the states of Arizona, California, and Nevada.

During a college tea event hosted by Davenport College on Oct. 13, Hemmers and Amanda McCord, director of the Fort Mojave Tribal Band, reflected on the history of the band and what it means to the Fort Mojave community. The conversation was moderated by Nyché Andrew, a Branford College junior.

Later that evening, the Native American Cultural Center hosted a dinner for the visiting guests.

On Saturday, Oct. 14, Ashley Hemmers joined Yale President Peter Salovey for a ceremonial on-field exchange of gifts before the Yale football team’s game against Sacred Heart University at the Yale Bowl. Later, despite rainy conditions, the Fort Mojave Tribal Band joined the Yale Marching Band for a half-time performance. Also participating was a member of the Rez Life Bird Singers, which performs traditional Mojave songs and dance celebrating the creation of the desert and its people.

The events were hosted by the Native American Cultural Center, Yale University Bands, Belonging at Yale, and Davenport College, in recognition of Indigenous People’s Day, which is Oct. 9, and Indigenous Peoples’ Month, which is celebrated in November.

“The Native American Cultural Center at Yale is committed to centering Indigenous knowledge, community, and culture on campus,” said Matthew Makomenaw, director of the Native American Cultural Center and assistant dean at Yale College. “It was wonderful to be in community with the Fort Mojave community during their time on campus and to learn about their culture and history.”

For those interested in learning more about the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, the Yale Alumni Service Corps (YASC) is organizing a service trip to the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation March 9 to 16, 2024. During the trip, YASC working in conjunction with the tribe, will lead students on a series of educational, cultural, financial literacy, and fitness and sports-related projects.

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