New club at Gonzaga plans to bring Native advocacy to campus

Ann Caindec is the president and co-founder of the Indigenous People and Rights Club, which hopes to establish awareness of the Native community on and around Gonzaga's campus.

Indigenous People and Rights Club has emerged on campus  at Gonzaga this semester to gather students with a common interest in promoting the preservation of indigenous ways. Members also discuss issues affecting Natives within the Spokane community and beyond.

Indigenous People and Rights Club (IPR) was co-founded by Treasurer Reanna Moore-Best, President Ann Caindec, Alicia Finch and Sarah Dobler, along with encouragement from Jessica Maucione, the interim Native American studies director, as well as an associate professor of English and women’s and gender studies at GU.

Moore-Best said it’s important to acknowledge that GU resides on the ancestral homes of Spokane Natives. That, in combination with the December 2018 Reveal story, which outlined sexual misconduct by Jesuit priests, is what sparked inspiration for the club.

“We just realized we don’t have a club on campus for this and we felt like it was time — past time, really,” Moore-Best said.

Caindec said the club is a community for Native students and friends to the Native community, as well as a space to openly discuss the controversies affecting Native Americans.

She said it’s essential to bring awareness to Natives as a community. The club emphasizes educating students on the way Natives at GU have been impacted during their time on campus.

This is especially important because GU was intended to be a school for Spokane Natives.

“On the promise of educating the Natives, Gonzaga hasn’t really followed through on that,” Caindec said. “So, with the Catholic Church scandal and acknowledging the fact that Gonzaga hasn’t really lived up to its promises to the Native communities, we thought it was time we started a club and got that conversation started to introduce people to what has been happening.” 

Moore-Best said the club acts as a catch-all, bringing students of different backgrounds together to share a common good.

Acknowledgement of different Native experiences is a main factor of club conversation the student founders are focusing on.

“Members have grown up in different places, are a part of different communities and have had many different experiences,” Caindec said. “Unity is what makes Indigenous People and Rights club one of a kind.”

The club hopes to establish more knowledge and awareness of the Native community to Gonzaga and the greater Spokane area. Through speakers and events held this semester, the club will bring the reality of Native peoples to the forefront of conversation.

The club is most excited about their first event welcoming Pulitzer Prize nominated author, Tommy Orange. Orange’s novel “There There” follows 12 different urban Natives whose lives intersect. The event will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 4 in the Hemmingson Ballroom.

“He loves talking to students and that’s what makes him different from other authors. He thrives off of conversation from students,” Moore-Best said.

Students with a passion for social justice within the Native community will surely find Orange’s enthusiasm for student involvement fascinating.

Other events that will be hosted by the Indigenous People and Rights Club this semester include a showing of Derrick LaMere’s film “Older Than The Crown,” Ryan Abe’s film “Red Road” and an environmental talk accompanied by Spokane Tribal Members, Twale Abrahamson and Deb Abrahamson. 

If students are interested in joining Indigenous People and Rights Club, visit Zagtivities for further contact information. Club meetings are held on Mondays at 6 p.m. in College Hall 128.

Acknowledgement of different Native experiences is a primary source of conversation the student founders are focusing on.

“Members have grown up in different places, are a part of different communities and have had many different experiences,” Caindec said. “Unity is what makes Indigenous People and Rights Club one of a kind.”

The club said it hopes to establish increased knowledge and awareness of the Native community within GU and the greater Spokane area. Through speakers and events held this semester, the club aims to bring the reality of Native peoples to the forefront of campus conversation.

The club said it is most excited about its first event, welcoming Pulitzer Prize-nominated author, Tommy Orange. Orange’s novel “There There” follows 12 different urban Natives whose lives intersect. The event will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 4 in Hemmingson Ballroom.

“He loves talking to students and that’s what makes him different from other authors," Moore-Best said. "He thrives off conversation from students.” 

Students with a passion for social justice within the Native community will likely be fascinated by Orange’s enthusiasm for student involvement.

Other future events hosted by the Indigenous People and Rights Club this semester include a showing of Derrick LaMere’s film “Older Than The Crown,” Ryan Abe’s film “Red Road” and an environmental talk featuring by Spokane Tribal Members, Twale Abrahamson and Deb Abrahamson.

If students are interested in joining Indigenous People and Rights Club, they can visit Zagtivities for contact information. Club meetings are held on Mondays at 6 p.m. in College Hall 128.

 

Natalie Rieth is a staff writer.

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