In an email sent to Brandeis students, faculty and staff on Oct. 3, Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion LeManuel Bitsóí and Helaine B. Allen and Cynthia L. Berenson Distinguished Visiting Professor and WSRC Faculty Affiliate Evangelina Macias told the Brandeis community about an event the university will be holding “to honor Indigenous Peoples[’] Day event at the Brandeis Intercultural Center.”
Macias and Bitsóí went on to explain that Indigenous Peoples’ Day is “about active support of Indigenous communities and caring for the lands we occupy.” Prior to Brandeis establishing itself on the land it currently sits on, “land was shared among the Massachusett people, which includes four contemporary surviving tribes: the Mattakeeset, Natick, Ponkapoag and Namasket.”
The pair also gave more details on the event, which will focus on “Building Indigenous Sovereignty In Community,” mentioning that the event will include “Welcoming Remarks from Habiba Braimah & Lee Bitsóí, [a] Community Keynote by Eva Blake (Wampanoag Nation), followed by a Q&A, [a] Round Dance led by Evangelina Macias and … a meal that will be provided.”
The speakers include Eva Blake, “a Citizen of the Assonet Band of the Wampanoag Nation, [who] works as the Managing Director of Philanthropic Partnerships for Grassroots International.” Blake has “also been engaged with the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project for 22 years as a student, teacher and board member. As the daughter of a traditional chief and environmental activist, she has participated in social and environmental justice as well as community organizing all her life.”
Dawn Duncan, “the President of the Grant Connection where she has helped raise more than $40 million in grant funding over the past 30 years” will also be speaking. “She is part Cherokee and Powhatan and has been a Member of the board of the directors of the Mass. Center for Native American Awareness since 2002. She is passionate about public health, racial justice, indigenous culture, cannabis equity and singing.”
Lastly, Prof. Evangelina Macias, “a scholar [and] dance/movement facilitator” as well as a professor at Brandeis, will be speaking. Her research “focuses on the Native American Fancy Shawl Dance as a site of gender expansion in its emergence and contemporary practice by women, Two Spirit and gender diverse dancers. Macias’ research interests include Native American Indigenous Dance, Critical Dance Studies, Indigenous Studies.”
Macias and Bitsóí ask that attendees register for the event, and consider attending “an event on Saturday, Oct. 7, an in-person evening of community connection and a showing of dance work by Evangelina Macias at Brandeis University. Light refreshments will be provided.”
Lastly, they add that information on past Indigenous Peoples’ Day events can be found on their website, and that classes will not be held in observance of the day on Monday.