Native Americans at Brown University host All-Ivy Native Council: All eight Ivies represented for first time at annual summit with theme ‘Laugh, Heal, Resist’
As the host of the All-Ivy Native Council’s fall summit, Brown drew 125 attendees to campus this weekend, setting a record for the group.
The weekend marked the fourth consecutive year that Brown has hosted either the fall summit or the spring conference.
For the first time, participants represented all eight Ivy League institutions, including three students from Princeton, which had never previously sent any students due to a small Native undergraduate community, said Jo’Nella Queen Ellerbe ’15, a member of Native Americans at Brown.
The All-Ivy Native Council is a student-run intercollegiate organization made up of each of the Ivy League schools’ Native organizations. Native Americans at Brown, an organization specifically for Brown students, is part of this larger entity, said Floripa Olguin ’16, co-coordinator and former president of All-Ivy Native Council.
“Our intention of bringing everyone to the campus is to foster the Native American community within the Ivy League institutions and essentially higher education so that we can be together for a weekend, enjoy each other’s company, get to know each other, discuss issues we’re facing on our campuses,” Olguin said.
The theme for the summit this weekend was “Laugh, Heal, Resist” — “confronting historical trauma through performance art,” Olguin said.
When Queen Ellerbe, Olguin and other students started brainstorming ideas last semester for the summit, they agreed that “art is important, art heals,” Queen Ellerbe said.
“Once art is performative, it becomes an act of resistance,” she said. “Being able to self-reflect on traumas in our lives … and our Native identity is a privilege.”
“Laughter is something very important to us and to use to cope with life,” Queen Ellerbe added. “It makes it bearable.”
The summit started off with a welcome speech from Mary Grace Almandrez, assistant dean of the College and director of the Brown Center for Students of Color. She delivered a speech about the meaning of the themes of indigenous community and Native identity to her and “what it means to be a student of color at Brown,” Olguin said.
She said Almandrez’s address helped students prepare for subsequent activities in which they would share their own narratives.
Coordinated by Native students who are former and current Minority Peer Counselors, the first workshop Saturday afternoon delved into interrogating Native identity within the Ivy League and fostered an internal conversation about “our place here and what it means for our communities back home, wherever that might be,” Olguin said.
Ojibwe comedian Jim Ruel and Navajo comedic duo James and Ernie conducted a panel discussion, during which they discussed how humor helps them deal with historical trauma and depression, said Myacah Sampson ’17, a Brown representative of the All-Ivy Native Council.
The summit concluded with a comedy show that included performances from Ruel and James and Ernie — an event for which Olguin said many students were particularly excited.
“It’s hard to get Native comedians out here,” Olguin said, “and it’s just nice to have this moment where all of us can be together and share these jokes that we get and understand as a community.”
By Grace Yoon
Read more at