Sophia Powless ’20
Major: Environmental Studies
What was your inspiration for the Native American Heritage events?
We wanted to create an environment that would give Native peoples a chance to freely speak on their perspectives and experiences, while educating those who want to learn more about Native culture. The Native American Art and Culture panel was inspired by both our love of Indigenous art and [that] we wanted to give attention to the Native artists from our communities. Art is an integral part of our culture and we believed that it was crucial that we addressed the thoughts of being a Native artist in the modern world. The second event, Origins of Lacrosse, was created because we wanted to acknowledge and recognize the sport that has been a part of our culture for hundreds of years. Many people are unaware of the history of the sport and the spiritual connections Indigenous people have with it. Both events come from a core part of Indigenous culture, and I believe that it is important that Indigenous people have the platform to talk about them.
Did you learn anything new by hosting these events? Did anything surprise you or stand out to you?
Hosting these events made me realize that many people have a desire to know about Indigenous cultures. It was incredible to see the number of people who tuned in, and we received overwhelmingly positive reactions. Hearing that there was an interest in making the celebration an annual event was simply amazing. We put a lot of work into gathering panelists, setting up the event and getting the word out, so it is great to see the further interest. During the events, there were a lot of questions that we were not able to answer due to time, but I hope to create more opportunities for those who are interested. I think that in the future I would love to have dancing, feasts or other important pieces of Indigenous culture incorporated into the month of celebration.
Learn more on the Haudenosaunee:
Each Nation has a website detailing each tribe’s history, government and language.
The Onondaga Nation
Includes videos and interviews on culture, language, government, land rights, history, lacrosse, sovereignty and treaties
The Seneca Nation
The Oneida Nation
The Mohawk Nation
The Cayuga Nation
The Tuscarora Nation
Information on more Indigenous cultures can be found at the National Museum of the American Indian website:
Olivia Maybee, current junior
What inspires you as a student leader?
My inspiration first comes from wanting to be a good example to my younger siblings. I want them to believe that they are smart and capable of anything they set their mind to. When it comes to being a student leader, I know how it feels to not be heard and seen in a PWI (predominantly white institution). Since then I have made it my personal goal to make noise and stand up for myself and for those who go unnoticed. So I began to make noise and step up for myself. Now, being here at [Adelphi] and with the support of co-organizer Sophia Powless, I was inspired to believe that we deserved the recognition. We have so much to bring to any table. I cannot wait to see what IPAC will accomplish in the future.
What do you hope participants learned? What do you hope they walked away with?
I hope I changed our viewers’ perspective on Native peoples. Giving them authentic and inspiring artists, athletes and leaders hopefully changed the skewed narrative that popular media often tells of us. I hope people walk away from these events with the inspiration to learn more.
Do you plan to hold similar, perhaps annual, events? If so, what will the focus be?
This semester, I am planning on holding more virtual events. Potentially a table talk series disputing stereotypes and other interesting topics surrounding the perception of Native culture. I also plan on continuing Adelphi’s Native American Heritage month, and hopefully, with continual club membership, it becomes a yearly staple.