President’s House to Host 10-Year Celebration of Native Studies

May 8, 2023

2023 marks 10 years since the Native American Cultural Center opened in its own, dedicated space on 26 High Street in New Haven, CT. In that decade, Yale has seen an impressive advancement in all areas relating to Native Studies and Indigenous community-building on campus, from admitting record high numbers of Native students and offering dozens of courses in Native Studies to organizing countless community events and hosting innumerable scholars, artists, and professionals from across Indian Country. 

On May 9, valued members and supporters of the Native community at Yale will celebrate this decade of achievements at President Peter Salovey’s house with an evening of Indigenous cuisine, musical performances, and art.

Leading the musical performances are Royce K. Young Wolf, PhD, and Bernard Gordillo, PhD. Young Wolf is an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral fellow in Native American Art and Curation and a Presidential Visiting fellow at Yale University. Accompanied by Mickenna Keller, MM ’23, Young Wolf will share an original vocable composition alongside Keller’s oboe interpretation of the score “For Suzanne Kite” in For Zitkála-Šá by Diné composer, Raven Chacon (2022). Gordillo, a Postdoctoral Teaching Associate and Lecturer in Christian Music Studies at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, will play the hymn “Shoshonee” from Indian Melodies (1845) by Thomas Commuck (Narragansett). Commuck’s book will be on view at the event, along with a print by composer Raven Chacon, tying the musical performances to the Indigenous art on view.

The past decade has seen a transformation in the relationship between Native art and Yale’s collecting institutions. At the reception, works from the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Yale Peabody Museum, and the Yale University Art Gallery will be on view in the President’s House, to celebrate the advancements each institution has made in the collection, display, and interpretation of Native art. Art exhibited includes a basket by Shan Goshorn (Cherokee), a wooden burl bowl by Justin Scott (Mohegan), a woodsplint basket by an unidentified Pequot artist, seed pots by Georgia Patricio (Acoma Pueblo) and Diane Lewis (Acoma Pueblo), a print by Raven Chacon (Diné), and the hymnal by Thomas Commuck (Narragansett).

The reception also celebrates new and groundbreaking publications by Native Studies faculty members: Ned Blackhawk’s The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History and Hi’ilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart’s Cooling the Tropics: Ice, Indigeneity, and Hawaiian Refreshment. Guests will receive signed copies of the books with commemorative bookplates.

Indigenous cuisine for the evening will be provided by Wampanoag Chef Sherry Pocknett, owner of the Sly Fox Den Too restaurant in Charlestown, Rhode Island, and her daughter Jade Galvin. Pocknett comes from a family of accomplished chefs and specializes in making traditional foods that rely on seasonal harvests. Pocknett is a 2023 James Beard Award Nominee for best chef in the Northeast.