In an effort to highlight some of the many different groups on campus, we asked Yohanna Ewing ’16 about Indigenous Nations at Kenyon and what this organization does on campus and how she got involved with them.
What kind of work does Indigenous Nations do on campus?
Indigenous Nations at Kenyon cultivates discussion on Native American issues between Native and non-Native students. This is carried out in our biweekly Sunday meetings at 2:00 pm in Lentz House as well as events throughout the year such as Native American Heritage Month.
Why is it important for this group to have a presence on campus?
Native Americans and Alaska Natives are not only an important part of our history-they are active and influential in our contemporary lives. It is important for our group to have a presence on campus to deconstruct the historical stereotypes and raise awareness on current Native issues from healthcare to water rights. Additionally, Indigenous Nations at Kenyon is a place where students who identify as Native American or Alaska Native can come together.
Are there any events in the near future you are looking forward to and would encourage your peers to attend?
November is Native American Heritage Month and our theme is holistic health. Our goal for NAHM is to examine and discuss this issue from a liberal arts lens as through my research and personal experiences in tribal run clinics I have come to understand that Native healthcare is a multidisciplinary issue-it not only requires medical knowledge but also historical context, cultural understanding, and political background. INK is bringing in speakers from many backgrounds and one of the events I am most excited about is Scatter Their Own’s performance on November 4th. They are a Native rock band out of the Pine Ridge Reservation and will bring a really unique perspective on how music has helped improved the mental and physical health of their community.
How did you get involved with the group?
In 2008 my aunt Hope Ewing introduced me to her best friend Della, a member of the Me-wuk tribe. Della was a phenomenal storyteller and told me of her life, family, and how her relationship with my aunt as a friend and physician positively influenced her and her community. These conversations ignited my initial curiosity in Native Health and my desire to serve these communities as an ally, researcher, and eventually physician. My conversations with Della came full circle in 2014 when I reconnected with my aunt Hope. This lead to my summer internship at Mathiesen Memorial Clinic, a tribal clinic run by the Chicken Ranch Me-wuk tribe in Jamestown, California. I continued my work with Native health the following summer as a women’s health intern at the Leo Pocha Clinic in Helena, Montana and decided that this was the area I wanted to continue to work in. However, I did not want to wait until graduation to continue working with Native communities and wanted to start a dialogue on Native health on campus so I got in contact with INK. Being a part of INK has been a great way to bring what I am passionate about to Kenyon and meet with students who have similar interests.