Perspectives on Cultural Preservation

Ideas Summit: Intersections in the Arts

An enlightening panel featuring esteemed speakers as they share their unique perspectives on the vital importance of preserving cultural identities in our rapidly changing world. This discussion will delve into the reasons why protecting our diverse cultural heritages is crucial not only for maintaining a sense of identity and community today but also for safeguarding these rich traditions for future generations. Our panelists will explore the various ways in which cultural preservation can be achieved and discuss the challenges and triumphs they have encountered in their efforts to maintain and celebrate their unique cultural practices.

Sandy Grande

Sandy Grande is a Professor of Political Science and Native American and Indigenous Studies at the University of Connecticut with affiliations in American Studies, Philosophy, and the Race, Ethnicity and Politics program. Her research and teaching interfaces Native American and Indigenous Studies with critical theory toward the development of more nuanced analyses of the colonial present. She was recently awarded the Ford Foundation, Senior Fellowship (2019-2020) for a project on Indigenous Elders and aging. Her book, Red Pedagogy: Native American Social and Political Thought was published in a 10th anniversary edition and a Portuguese translation is anticipated to be published in Brazil in 2021. She has also published numerous book chapters and articles including: Accumulation of the Primitive: The Limits of Liberalism and the Politics of Occupy Wall Street, The Journal of Settler Colonial Studies; Refusing the University in Toward What Justice?; “American Indian Geographies of Identity and Power,” Harvard Educational Review; and, “Red-ding the Word and the World” In, Paulo Freire’s Intellectual Roots: Toward Historicity in Praxis. She is also a founding member of New York Stands for Standing Rock, a group of scholars and activists that forwards the aims of Native American and Indigenous sovereignty and resurgence. As one of their projects, they published the Standing Rock Syllabus. In addition to her academic and organizing work, she has provided eldercare for her parents for over ten years and remains the primary caregiver for her 92-yr. old father.

Chris Newell

Chris Newell is co-founder/director of education for Akomawt Educational Initiative; a majority Native-owned educational consultancy based in Connecticut and author of Scholastic's If You Lived During the Plimoth Thanksgiving. He is a multi-award-winning museum professional born and raised in Motahkmikuhk (Indian Township, ME) and a proud citizen of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for the New England Museum Association, Tides Institute, and Maine Public.

Chris is a long-time singer with the acclaimed Mystic River singers based out of Connecticut and has traveled the US and Canada singing and participating in cultural celebrations, pow wows, and live stage performance. Chris was the Senior Advisor for the Emmy-award winning documentary Dawnland and co-director of the short documentary Weckuwapok (The Approaching Dawn) (2022) chronicling a historic sunrise concert collaboration in 2021 with Wabanaki musicians/storytellers and 18-time Grammy-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Nakai Clearwater Northup

Nakai Clearwater Northup serves as the Head of Education at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum where he’s spent more than 10 years developing educational programs on eastern woodland tribal history and culture. He is the vice chair of the Tribe’s Natural Resources Protection Committee.  He also serves as a board member of the Stonington Historical Society.

As a member of both the Mashantucket Pequot and Narragansett tribes he found that hunting and fishing reconnected him to the land while fueling his passion to cook with wild game.

Now at 29 years old, Northup has founded a new company called Rez Life Outdoors to promote Indigenous perspectives on hunting, harvesting and cooking.

Dana Jackson-Washington

Dana Jackson-Washington, Midnight Owl, is a Clan Mother, with heritage of New England and Vinginia tribes. She is Narragansett descendant and Nipmuc tribal member who lives in CT. Dana is an Eastern Blanket dancer, member of several Women’s Healing Circles and holds positions throughout the Native country. She is involved in social justice activism across the region, for. Truth & Reconciliation of “Every Child Matters”, MMIW movement, Human mascot removals, Language Preservation, Water preservation, and Native Unity efforts. Dana lends her passion to supporting members of underserved communities access healthcare solutions, to prolong healthy lifestyles.

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