Gathering at the Crossroads: Teaching, Learning, and Community along the Kwinitekw

Welcome to the Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies Virtual Symposium 2021!

The northeast region’s Kwinitekw (Connecticut River) Valley sits at a crossroads of Indigenous nations and continues to be a central gathering place for Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) scholars as well as for Native American and Indigenous leaders, artists, writers, and activists. A core feature of thinking about this region is embodied in the word “Kwinitekw,” a word that is shared by several Native nations that span the shores of this important waterway. Although our spelling is taken from the Abenaki language there are Native sources from across time that indicate how various versions of this spelling refer to the same body of water, and here we view it as an important connecting point across both time and place, for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

The 2021 Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies symposium celebrates the “gathering at the crossroads” theme and the support we have received from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help our member campuses transform and enhance teaching, learning, and scholarship that celebrates Indigenous perspectives, approaches, and materials.

The virtual format acknowledges that we can still be together even if we cannot meet in person.


Who can participate in the NAIS Symposium?

The NAIS symposium is open to all: Faculty, staff, and students from Five College Consortium members are all welcome participants, as are all community members from further afield.


All panels will be Zoom Webinars. Registration is required. Registering for one event automatically provides access to all events. 

To register for the NAIS Symposium Zoom Webinars below, please click here


Monday April 19: Land Acknowledgments

Land Acknowledgments have become more common and popular for public events within and outside of Academia. What is a Land Acknowledgment? What does it mean to do one in a meaningful way? How might we move beyond mere acknowledgment to other ways of actively decolonizing our learning and living spaces? This panel features Professor Sonya Atalay (UMass) and others in a presentation and discussion of how to collaboratively engage with Native community members to produce effective Land Acknowledgment work.

Event starts: 7:30 pm EST 
Event ends: 9:00 pm EST 

Moderator and panelists:

  • Sonya Atalay, Ojibwe, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Rhonda Anderson, Iñupiaq - Athabascan, State Commission on Indian Affairs - Representative for Western Massachusetts
  • Judy Dow, Abenaki, Basketmaker and educator
  • Luz Orozco, Muysca, student, Smith College

Moderator and Panelists' Biographies

Monday April 26: Seeds & Soil

Although seasonal eating is a hot topic these days amongst trendy chefs and Restauranteurs, seasonal food cycles have been part of indigenous ways of life in the river valley since time immemorial. This panel features local indigenous activists and food experts from Southern New England tribes, a visiting college professor who specializes in Choctaw foodways, a farmer at Amherst College, and a student from Isleta Pueblo. The five presenters will engage in dialogue about what indigenous foods, seeds, and soil mean to them, and how to perpetuate these seeds for future generations. 

Event starts: 7:30 pm EST 
Event ends: 9:00 pm EST 

Moderator and Panelists:

  • Rachel Beth Sayet, Mohegan, Community Development Fellow, Five Colleges, inc.
  • Robert Caldwell, Choctaw-Apache Community of Ebarb, LA, Visiting Faculty, Hampshire College
  • Leah Hopkins, Narragansett, Native American Community Engagement, Brown University
  • Maida Ives, Manager of Farm Education and Operations, Amherst College
  • Alexis Scalese, Isleta Pueblo, Student, Amherst College

Moderator and Panelists' Biographies

Monday May 3: Teaching and Learning 

This panel features Rae Gould (Nipmuc Nation), Executive Director of Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative at Brown University, and historian Christine DeLucia (Williams College) in a presentation and discussion regarding the challenges and opportunities of incorporating Indigenous perspectives, materials, and methods into teaching and research for scholars based in the Northeast. In addition, recipients of Mellon funded mini-grants will present updates on the status of their initial forays with including NAIS in their Five College classrooms. Students will also share their experiences during a panel discussion and Q & A with attendees.

Event starts: 7:30 pm EST
Event ends: 9:00 pm EST 

Moderator and Panelists: 

  • Christine DeLucia, Assistant Professor of History, Williams College
  • Sony Coranez Bolton, Assistant Professor of Spanish, Amherst College
  • Rae Gould, Nipmuc Nation, Executive Director of Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative,  Brown University 
  • Anpa'o Locke, Húŋkpapȟa Lakota & Ahtna Dené, Afro-Indigenous writer and filmmaker
  • Will MacAdams, Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre, Hampshire College
  • Sabra Thorner, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Mount Holyoke College
  • Blythe Wilde, student, Hampshire College
  • Fianna Wilde, student, Hampshire College
  • Jon Woodruff, Associate Professor of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Moderator and Panelists' Biographies

Additional Resources
Watch the following video to learn more about Amherst College's Younghee Kim-Wait (’82) Pablo Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection (Eisenberg collection or KWE collection for short).

YouTube Video 

Read this to learn more about the KWE Native American Literature Collection. 

      Students' Projects on NAIS Subjects

  • Poster presenting Five College students' final NAIS projects in various disciplines, including art history, media studies, anthropology, et al.
  • Video on the above projects

Monday May 10: Celebration 

During our final Gathering at the Crossroads, a keynote speaker will acknowledge the Five College NAIS Certificate students and we will enjoy performances by Native artists.

  • Urban Thunder
  • Keynote guest speaker Buffy Sainte Marie
  • Blackbird (formerly The Cody Blackbird Band)

The virtual format acknowledges that we can still be together even if we cannot meet in person. 

Event starts: 7:30 pm EST
Event ends: 9:30 pm EST 

To register for the NAIS Symposium Zoom Webinars, please click here

Guidelines for our Virtual Community

In Indigenous philosophies of education, knowing and learning are communal activities that are shared for the benefit of the whole. We want to remind attendees of the Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies Virtual Symposium that we value reciprocity, respect, and being in good relation with one another. This sort of thinking extends into the virtual format and the Q & A following each of our scheduled presentations. Panelists welcome discussion and dialogue that is founded on these principles. Thus, we ask anyone who prepares a question for our presenters to think about our learning as a community, which is being built around the Indigenous philosophy behind “the dish with one spoon” treaty. Using this framework means that we understand that we all bring something to share that will nourish one another in our minds and spirits and we want to learn from each other. We will share our nourishment with a common spoon. A spoon has no sharp edges, it does not cut or pierce like a knife or a fork. Thus, we acknowledge that we come together in the spirit of mutual betterment to avoid cutting or piercing one another. We can learn and accomplish so much more as a whole than we can as individuals.

Public protocols for Q&A during panels

Curate your own question before posting it. Ask yourself:

  • Is this question helpful to other members of the audience?
  • Does your question implicitly criticize the panelists for not doing the work that you could/should be doing?
  •  Are you willing to listen if the answer is difficult or not what you expect?

Expressions of praise or thanks for the panelists  are appreciated but please save them for the end of the panel, so that the questions to be answered are prioritized.

To learn more about the "Dish with One Spoon Treaty" visit: 


For inquiries about the accessibility of this event or to request any accommodations, contact Bea Cusin, at bcusin[at] We ask that you make accommodation requests no later than 72 hours prior to the start of the event to allow for adequate implementation time. Regardless, in all situations, a good faith effort will be made to provide accommodations up until the time of the event.


To access Abenaki author Joseph Laurent’s book and his spelling of the Connecticut River please visit Five College Libraries.

Many different Native nations are connected to this river, which flows from the headwaters in northern Abenaki country (northern NH) down to the mouth at Quinnipiac (New Haven), west of Pequot and Mohegan. A map from The Common Pot by Lisa Brooks illustrates some of these nations and homelands available here.


Symposium planning committee

  • Alice Nash, Associate Professor of History, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • "Rachel Beth Sayet / Akitusut, Five College Community Development Fellow
  • Kiara Vigil, Dakota/Apache, Associate Professor of American Studies, Amherst College, and Co-Convener, NAIS Mellon NAIS Grant 
  • Bea Cusin, Five College Administrative Assistant for Sponsored Projects


For questions regarding the NAIS Symposium events or to request any accommodations, please contact Bea Cusin, at bcusin[at]