Alisia Pan, Staff Photographer

In the days following Indigenous Peoples Day, students at Yale and beyond convened in multiple events to discuss Indigenous experiences and share in art and community.

Indigenous Peoples Day took place on Monday, Oct. 11, and featured multiple celebratory events on campus. In the days that followed, the Association of Native Americans at Yale, or ANAAY — a student group of the Native American Cultural Center — held various events to continue celebrating the holiday. Tuesday evening, the University of Connecticut’s Native American and Indigenous Student Association, or NAISA, collaborated with ANAAY for a higher education Zoom panel discussion, featuring leaders of student cultural centers from Yale, as well as the University of Connecticut and Quinnipiac University. Later that evening, the NACC opened its doors in a “Late night at the NACC” event, featuring arts and community workshops. The festivities concluded on Wednesday evening, as ANAAY hosted a keynote speaker event with attorney and activist Jerilyn DeCoteau.

“The rally and the dinner and the keynote speaker are all staples of Indigenous Peoples Day, however we wanted to see what else we could do this year and especially focus on doing something not just within our community but something that really focused on our community in this house,” Evan Roberts ’23, the co-president of ANAAY, told the News. 

Tuesday’s panel discussion focused on Indigenous experiences in higher education, and featured seven Indigenous student leaders from Yale, UConn and Quinnipiac. Panelists Sage Phillips from UConn, Hema Patel ’23 and Roberts noted that they first met at a Dartmouth College Indigenous student fly-in program centered around Indigenous Peoples Day. Roberts noted that Yale has no such program.

Roberts and Patel, also a co-president of ANAAY, said that one of their priorities when they first became presidents was to reach out to leaders of Indigenous cultural centers at other universities to enhance cross-campus community. 

Citing their ability to collaborate with leaders of other universities as a result of this semi-virtual year, Patel noted during the panel discussion that “Zoom has been instrumental in changing the way admissions processes work,” and that the Office of Undergraduate Admissions’ Wednesday hosting of an essay-writing Zoom workshop for Indigenous high school seniors was something that prospective students would not necessarily have been able to access before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Kiara Tanta-Quidgeon, a senior at Quinnipiac University and the founder and president of Quinnipiac’s Indigenous Student Union, described her struggle to build a cultural program from the ground up. 

“While we faced a lot of obstacles in making it happen, whether it be reaching out to students or having our voices heard on the administrative side of things,” Tanta-Quidgeon said during the panel. “It makes me really happy to know that now when students do come here in the future, specifically Native or Indigenous students or students who are just interested in Indigenous identities, culture and history, they’ll have that space to share and a sense of community that a lot of students before us didn’t have.”

Following the panel, attendees of Tuesday’s art night at the NACC could participate in their choice of beading, lei-making, improv and poetry workshops. 

Jordan Sahly ’24, who led the beading workshop and who also runs a beading Instagram business, described his foray into beading as a “way to practice both artistic expression and cultural tradition.”

“The workshop is a good example of what the NACC is capable of, as beaders from different tribes, teachings, and styles came together to collaborate and share some of the knowledge we’ve learned,” Sahly wrote in an email to the News. 

He further noted that Indigenous Yale students have looked to find ways to engage non-Indigenous students with NACC programming, citing Monday’s Indigenous Peoples Day rally and the beading workshop at the NACC. 

Thirty-six people registered for Tuesday’s arts night, and it drew in non-Indigenous members of the Yale community, including graduate students looking to explore celebrations of a holiday they had not previously heard of. 

On Wednesday night, the NACC hosted a keynote speaker event, featuring attorney and activist Jerilyn DeCoteau, who presented on healing and access to justice in response to Indigenous boarding schools. Reflecting on her own family’s experiences with Indigenous boarding schools, DeCouteau noted that cultural genocide has been hidden from families and not taught to children.

The keynote speaker event wrapped up the NACC’s programming for Indigenous Peoples Day. 

The NACC is located at 26 High St.

Anabel Moore edits for the WKND desk. She previously wrote for the WKND, Magazine and Arts desks as a staff writer. Originally from the greater Seattle, WA area, she is a junior in Branford College double-majoring in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and the History of Art with a certificate in Global Health.