Ivy Native Council to Focus on Languages and Cultures

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Conference will bring 150 Ivy League Native and Indigenous students to Dartmouth.

Dartmouth students helping to arrange the Ivy Native Council Conference
Dartmouth students helping to arrange the April 19-21 Ivy Native Council Conference include, top row, Wamniomni Afraid of Hawk ’27; middle row from left, Neena Shell ’26, Keva Burshiem ’26; bottom row, Perciliana Moquino ’26, Marcella Heisey ’25, and Caroline Moore ’26. (Photo by Leora DePerry ’26)

About 150 Native and Indigenous students—including 50 from Dartmouth and 100 from other Ivy League Institutions—will gather on campus later this month for the Ivy Native Council Conference, an event that celebrates and preserves Native history and culture while fostering fellowship, learning, and mutual support.

“As an institution that serves over 200 Native and Indigenous undergraduate students from over 70 different Indigenous communities, the Ivy Native Council Conference is a special time for undergraduate students across the Ivy League to come together to be in community with one another,” says Adria Brown ’15, director of the Native American Program at Dartmouth and an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation.

“This year, we’re excited to support students’ desire to learn about language revitalization efforts from a multitude of Indigenous perspectives. The Ivy Native Council student representatives and our Dartmouth planning committee have guided the selection of speakers. I’m proud to support their hard work and commitment to learning from Indigenous language practitioners and teachers.” 

That’s exactly what Brown herself has been doing, first as curator of exhibitions and education at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, Okla., and now at Dartmouth.

“As a descendant of boarding school survivors who were forbidden to speak their Native languages, I’m an active student of Chikashshanompa’ in an effort to reclaim it, and I’m proud of our community’s decade-long language initiative,” she says. 

Language is also important to Perciliana Moquino ’26, a Native American and Indigenous studies and environmental studies major who grew up on the Kewa and Cochiti pueblos in New Mexico. As coordinator of this year’s April 19 to 21 conference, she invited her mother, Trisha Moquino, to give the keynote “as a way of honoring her and my people.” 

Trisha Moquino is the co-founder and a Keres-speaking elementary guide at Keres Children’s Learning Center, a language revitalization school with a comprehensive cultural and academic curriculum for Cochiti Pueblo children and their families. 

Ivy Native Council logo
Logo by Chrysty Lopez ’27 and Mateo Silva ’26

“Because she was not fluent in the Keres language as a child, it was my mom’s hope to revitalize it for her own children,” says the younger Moquino. “Speaking it at home with my parents and grandparents, I’ve been given an amazing opportunity to see the world in more than one way—from a Keres person’s perspective, and through an English perspective, understanding different viewpoints. Coming to Dartmouth, 2,000 miles from home, you’re thrown into a place that you’ve never been to before, and what has really helped me navigate that personally is being able to speak my language, even if it’s just to myself.”

Moquino says many Native and Indigenous students at Dartmouth are majoring in linguistics in hopes of bringing language back to their own communities. Members of Native Americans at Dartmouth have recently created the Indigenous Living Languages organization “to serve as a community for all students interested in learning Indigenous languages and fostering revitalization efforts,” she says.

Conference presenters include award-winning Indigenous writer, environmental historian, and ethnobotanist Rosalyn LaPier; Cherokee scholar Thomas Belt; Maskoke language revitalizer, scholar, and musician Marcus Briggs Cloud; Ojibwe educator Brooke Niiyogaabawiikwe Gonzalez ’97; and Ashlyn Lovato, a 2023 alumna of Brown University, where she is now earning a master’s degree in linguistic anthropology with a focus on unwritten Indigenous languages and cultural knowledge systems. 

Attendees will be invited to visit the Hood Museum of Art, home to more than 4,000 works by Native American artists. Following dinner and bingo at the Hanover Inn, a performance in Collis Common Ground will feature hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, a well-known environmental activist who delivered a 2015 speech at the United Nations General Assembly in English, Spanish, and his native language, Nahuatl. 

Sunday morning, says Moquino, will be a time for farewells and reflection. 

“I genuinely hope that as students leave us and go back to their everyday lives, our communities will remember that we support one another through language learning, strengthening our knowledge systems both within the higher institutions we attend and within our own Indigenous communities.”