'Beyond Feathers': IDE Summit Looks at Indigenous Identities

The Oct. 15 conference is hosted by the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity.

How deep is the gulf between the way indigenous people view themselves and the way others represent them?

That's the topic for discussion at the third annual  Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity (IDE) summit, which is also sponsored by the Campus Climate and Culture Initiative (C3I), the Dartmouth 250th Anniversary Committee, and the Leslie Center for the Humanities. The Oct. 15 event at the Hanover Inn is open to all faculty and staff.

"Indigenous people possess many cultures, views, and experiences not shared or known outside of their communities, because of distorted media representation, historical bias, and misinformed perspective on Native cultures," says Evelynn Ellis, vice president for institutional diversity and equity. "This year's summit, 'Moving Beyond Feathers: Unclicking the Pause Button on Native and Indigenous Identity,' will focus on Native representation in literature, art, media, and contemporary culture."

The conference will feature a keynote address by Adrienne Keene, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and a scholar, writer, blogger, and activist. Keene's blog, "Native Appropriations," discusses cultural appropriation of Native peoples in fashion, film, music, and other forms of pop culture. An assistant professor of American studies and ethnic studies at Brown University, Keene researches college access and success for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students.

There will be three presenters from Dartmouth:

  • Native American Program director Sarah Palacios, a member of the Pueblo of Pojoaque, will talk about how the media sometimes misrepresent Native people and their experiences.
  • Melanie Taylor, an associate professor of Native American Studies, will give a talk based on her forthcoming  book, The Indian in American Southern Literature, which looks at "troubling and persistent" representations of Native Americans by southern writers.
  • Jami Powell, associate curator of Native American Art at the Hood Museum of Art and a citizen of the Osage Nation, will discuss "Strong Foundations and Bright Futures" in indigenous art. Each presentation will be followed by group discussions in breakout sessions.

Taking place during Dartmouth's 250th year, the 2019 summit commemorates Dartmouth's founding as an institution to educate Native Americans, says Theodosia Cook, the director of the Campus Climate and Culture Initiative. "The summit will allow us all to grapple with our experiences and move towards a truer perception of Native and Indigenous people," she says.

For a full program and to register, visit the summit website.  

Charlotte Albright can be reached at [email protected].