Indigenous Beats: Summer Celebration

by Katie McCleary (Staff Columnist, Apsáalooke/Chippewa-Cree)

The Yale Native community is composed of students from different Native nations across the Western Hemisphere. Although Yale Natives spend the summer apart, we continue to exchange indigenous knowledge via social media. Through mini-dialogues and hashtags, we learn about each other in our own words and pictures instead of through textbooks written by non-indigenous people. Our every social media update says we are still dancing, still singing, still here.

Below is a sampling of Snapchats, Instagram pictures, and Facebook posts from Yale Native students and the events they participated in this summer.

Indian taco at the Arlee Powwow in Montana

Indian taco

Thanks to Autumn Shone ’16 (Diné), we have an Instagram picture to get us through finals. Indian tacos usually have a frybread base with beans, ground meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cheese. They’re the most well-known pan-Indian dish and unite the Yale Native community even more than the struggle bus that is Professor Ned Blackhawk’s (Western Shoshone) history papers.

Dancing Crow traditional at the Crow Fair Powwow in Montana

Crow traditional

With about 1,700 teepees set up every year, the annual Crow Fair celebration is known as the “Teepee Capital of the World” or Chichiaxxaawaasuaa in the Crow language. I danced Crow traditional at the powwow with my sister (cousin in western terms) and teasing cousin (a type of clan relation) in our traditional Crow elk tooth dresses. Crow Fair is a time of laughter when kids try to trick aunties into pulling shocking gum[1], that one cousin finally snags[2], and the blue lemonade your taste buds just can’t seem to forget is served daily.

Chowing down on a frybread and mutton sandwich from the local flea market in Paige, AZ


A delicacy Yale Dining doesn’t even know about. Flea markets are common throughout the Southwest as venues for Native peoples to sell their goods and art. Shout out to Kodi Alvord ’17 (Diné) for sharing this with us while simultaneously indigenizing the Wal-Mart (or as my aunty likes to call it, “Gathering of the Nations”) Snapchat filter.

Feast Day at Santo Domingo Pueblo

Charelle summer

Pueblo feast days are annual celebrations of dance and language. Charelle Brown ’19 (Santo Domingo/Kewa Puebo) extended a wonderful invitation (#IndigenousLove) and shared a flyer on Facebook to spread the word. She didn’t post pictures of the celebration because photography is not allowed in Pueblo communities.

South Side wins the peach seed games

Peach seed games

Andrea Wigglesworth ’17 (Seneca-Cayuga) is part of the Southside Deer Clan, which won the 2016 peach seed games played between the Southside and Northside clans at the Seneca-Cayuga Nation’s annual week-long Greencorn Festival that marks the beginning of the harvest. The game involves shaking a bowl that has six peach seeds, each of which has a burnt side. The aim is to shake the seeds until five or six are all on the burnt or non-burnt side. (If you don’t understand this, sincere apologies, but Andrea can assure you that it’s very fun.)

Trail of Tears Walk in Tvshka Homma


Ashton Megli ’18 (Choctaw) and her mamma in front of the courthouse at the Choctaw Nation’s capital, Tvshka Homma. The annual Trail of Tears Walk commemorates the forced removal of Choctaw people from their homelands in the southeastern U.S. The Walk ended with a celebration of the Nation’s endurance with music, brisket, beans, pink sugar cookies (the really yummy, soft kind), and Gatorade.


[1] Shocking gum is a toy package of gum that gives a harmless shock when a specific piece is pulled out.

[2] Hooks up