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As TCU observes its 150th anniversary, its 2023 Seventh Annual Native American and Indigenous Peoples Day symposium will consist of introspective and forward-looking events built around the theme, "TCU and Native American and Indigenous Relationships: Exploring the Past, Embracing the Present, Impacting the Future." As always, the symposium will be held on the first Monday in October, which is October 2, 2023.


During the day, we will hold working sessions with leaders from TCU and Native American and Indigenous (NAI) communities and organizations regarding the university’s past and present relationships with NAI peoples. These sessions will focus on critical assessments of these relationships with the goal of producing recommendations for building a more inclusive, healthy, and respectful future. In the evening, a moderated dialogue will be held between senior university leadership and NAI leaders regarding future relationships between TCU and NAI peoples. What needs to be done now to ensure that TCU continues developing mutually beneficial relationships, rooted in respect, with NAI peoples? What will TCU’s relationships with Native American and Indigenous peoples look like in five or ten years and what specific actions need to be taken to achieve this vision? 


Public Sessions

MMIW Panel Discussion (2-2:50 PM; Brown-Lupton University Union [BLUU] Auditorium): “Reflecting on TCU’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Initiatives”

This session will describe and reflect on initiatives at TCU from 2019-2023 related to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). Panelists will include community partners from MMIW TX Rematriate, faculty members who incorporated MMIW topics and projects into their courses, and students in those courses or who have been recipients of TCU’s MMIW Scholarship. A joint effort with the local community, TCU’s MMIW initiatives model larger campus efforts to partner with Native and Indigenous peoples to enhance our teaching and learning while simultaneously assisting efforts they have identified as important. As we engage in such initiatives, we must also pause to evaluate whether they have been positive experiences for those involved and if they have met learning goals for the courses and social justice goals for community partners, and determine what we must learn going forward based on our experiences with these efforts.


Panelists: Dr. Theresa Gaul (Moderator); Jodi Voice Yellowfish (Chair, MMIW TX Rematriate); Ruth Thunderhawk (Member, MMIW Texas Rematriate); Dr. Broc Sears (TCU Strategic Communication Department); Crystal Avelar (TCU ‘23 and TCU College Advising Corp)


Native American Organizations Informational Tables (6:30-7:00 and 8:30-9:00 PM; Brown-Lupton University Union [BLUU] Ballroom) 


Thirty minutes before and after the Symposium keynote session, local Native American organizations will staff informational tables just outside the BLUU Ballroom where you can stop by and learn more about these organizations and the work they do. Participating organizations are: Texas Native Health, Indigenous Institute of the Americas, MMIW TX Rematriate, Beyond Bows and Arrows radio show, Cherokee Community of North Texas, Big Bear Native American Museum, TCU’s Native and Indigenous Student Association, University of Texas at Arlington’s Native American Student Association, the Native American Business Association, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.


Keynote Session (7-8:30 PM; Brown-Lupton University Union [BLUU] Ballroom): “A Conversation between TCU’s Senior Leadership and Native American and Indigenous Leaders”

The symposium will culminate in a moderated dialogue between senior university leadership and Native American and Indigenous (NAI) leaders on the future of TCU’s relationships with NAI peoples and communities. The goal of the session is to strengthen relationships between TCU and Native American and Indigenous peoples and communities, create better understanding of each group’s needs and circumstances, guide and inspire the future direction of these relationships, and model TCU’s commitment to the values expressed in its Land Acknowledgement


Keynote Session Panelists: 

Terri Parton, President, Wichita and Affiliated Tribes

Chebon Kernell (Seminole Nation of Oklahoma), Muscogee/Creek ceremonial grounds leader; Executive Director, Native American Comprehensive Plan, United Methodist Church; member of TCU’s Native American Advisory Circle

Annette Anderson (Chickasaw and Cherokee), Advisory Council member of the Indigenous Institute of the Americas, Plano, TX; Licensed Clinical Social Worker; member of TCU’s Native American Advisory Circle

Dr. Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, TCU’s Chief Inclusion Officer and Senior Advisor to the Chancellor 

Dr. Wendi Sierra, moderator (Oneida Nation of Wisconsin), Associate Professor of Game Studies, TCU Honors College


Lodge (Tipi) on the Commons--Stop by and visit with Carl Kurtz, citizen of Citizen Potawatomi Nation and TCU '14, to hear about the Nishnabe' - The People of the Place of the Fire, known as the Potawatomi - their past, Carl's experiences as a Native student and employee at TCU, and the future of Native relationships with those permanent visiting residents of Turtle Island. 


Non-Public, Small Group Working Sessions

Findings and recommendations from these sessions will be distributed. 


Community Working Session 1: "Creating Spaces for Native American and Indigenous Students" 

Community Working Session 2: “Centering Community Engagement Through Land Acknowledgements”

Community Working Session 3: "Native American and Indigenous Perceptions and Experiences with TCU" 


Symposium logo:

Designer Deante’ Moore, an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community and graduate student at the University of North Texas, explains:


"For this piece, I wanted to design representation for each of the elements that are being highlighted this year. The left includes an Indigenous woman who is wearing red with a red handprint that represents Missing and Murdered Indigenous relatives which is a testimony to exploring the past. We are fighting against this epidemic to create a better future for generations to come. The right includes an Indigenous man in an orange ribbon shirt. Orange is the color that represents the survivors of Indian boarding schools that existed to assimilate Native communities into the American way of living. This 100-year policy affected generations and is relevant to the education system and TCU as we still live in a world where our knowledge, history, and experience are not shared. The middle shows a Native graduate wearing TCU regalia to indicate the impacting future aspect. As Native Americans have a low percentage of college graduation, it is important to increase the representation of Native students and to also contribute to graduates that will give back to their communities. Eagle feathers are also shown through the poster on the top. Eagle feathers are sacred to many tribes as they serve as a blessing from our ancestors and creator. We use them in our prayer, smudges, ceremony and as honor, and more."


Symposium Sponsors

We deeply thank our generous sponsors:


Office of the Chancellor and President

Office of the Provost

Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Student Identity and Engagment


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