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Stanford community members meet for Native American-Indigenous Heritage Month Coffee Conversation

The Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability’s office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) hosted a Native American-Indigenous Heritage Month Coffee Conversation on Nov. 14 for students, faculty, and staff from across the university.

Community members gathered on the patio of the Mitchell Earth Sciences Building to connect, celebrate representation, and learn about resources on campus.

The DEI team smiling behind a Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability table and Happy Native American Heritage Month sign
Coffee Convos are organized by the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability’s office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. (Photo credit: Hong Yang)

The DEI office hosts “Coffee Convos” throughout the year to recognize various identities at the school and Stanford more broadly. Other Coffee Convos hosted fall quarter have honored Veterans Day and Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month.

“The goal is to create more visibility for the diverse communities that we have at the Doerr School,” said Lupe Carrillo, director of DEI at the Doerr School of Sustainability. “We’re excited to celebrate Native American Heritage Month, not only to highlight this community’s many contributions to the Stanford campus, but also to bring awareness to Indigenous representation in the sciences.”

Greg Graves, associate director of the Native American Cultural Center (NACC) and member of the Delaware Tribe, spoke during the event about the Muwekma Ohlone people, whose ancestral land includes the area upon which the Stanford University campus sits. Like many Native American communities, their history and presence have often been erased, Graves said. The tribe’s ongoing fight for federal recognition is one reminder of the need to continue telling these stories.

“I’m proud that there are over 450 Native students on campus,” Graves added. “They’re a strong, vibrant community, and to help showcase and uplift that is always important.”

The Coffee Convo also welcomed Cherokee, Choctaw, and Osage undergraduate student Daniel Baker, ’26, who spoke about the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) at Stanford and its efforts to promote American Indian and Alaska Native representation in STEM.

Baker, who is the president of Stanford AISES, attended a similar event in 2022 with fellow club members. “It’s important to support actions on campus that promote this month and academic pathways for Native students,” he said.

Four event attendees smiling and holding up the books they won
Attendees answered trivia questions to win books about Indigenous wisdom, science, history, and activism. (Photo credit: Hong Yang)

After hearing from the speakers, attendees competed in teams to answer trivia about Native history, leaders, and connections to Stanford. Members of the winning team chose from a selection of books by Indigenous authors, including “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer and “Fresh Banana Leaves” by Jessica Hernandez.

José Rubio-Zepeda, assistant director for Inclusion and Belonging at the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, helped organize the event and trivia competition. “This is one way that we create conversation and dialogue, but also celebrate our Native American-Indigenous population,” he said.

Reflecting on the event, Carrillo emphasized the value of both visibility and inclusion.

“It’s important to acknowledge the role that Indigenous people have in discussions about sustainability and environmental justice – not just in history, but in current discussions today,” she said. “In order to solve these global issues, we need all voices.”

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