The student group Native Americans at Harvard College (NAHC) hosted the 10th annual Ivy Native Conference last weekend, bringing more than 110 students from all eight Ivy League schools to Cambridge to highlight issues in the Native American community and network among each other.
Taking place from Friday to Sunday, the conference consisted of socials, panel events, and keynote addresses all focusing around the conference’s theme of “Economic Vibrancy in 21st Century Native Communities.” According to Caden T. Chase ’17, vice president of the NAHC, the focus on economics was unique from past years’ conferences, which had themes related to arts or music.
“We thought it would be more important to spotlight the different economic paths that people have taken to ensure the survival of their people both culturally and physically,” he said.
After a morning address by Philip J. Deloria, a visiting professor in the History Department who specializes in Native American history, the conference included a career fair, followed by a panel discussion Saturday afternoon. The panel featured individuals in the consulting industry as well as Jessica R. Metcalfe, owner of what she said is the first Native American-operated online gallery store specializing in Native American-made fashion.
Jack Martin, a sophomore at Brown who attended the conference, said the panel discussion was important for showing how traditional Native values can be integrated with the current economic system.
“We can integrate cultural values and engage in the strongly capitalistic structure of the U.S.,” Martin said. “We can use our traditional values to empower not just ourselves but the ways we can make money and...get funding and resources that will help our communities.”
Valentina S. Rodriguez ’15, president of the NAHC, said part of the motivation of the conference was not just to bring together Native American students, but to raise awareness about Native issues for the larger student body.
“There’s often a little bit of mystery about what it means to be Native today and what it means to be a Native at an Ivy League school,” she said. “It’s really important to have places where these things can be discussed.”
The All-Ivy Native Council is a student-run organization that brings together all eight Ivies’ Native student groups. Hosted at Harvard this year, the Ivy Native Conference not only had attendants from the Native student groups of the eight Ivy League schools, but also from McGill, University of Notre Dame, MIT, and George Washington University, according to Rodriguez.
—Staff writer Hannah Smati can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @HannahSmati.