University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Indigenous Women & Women of Color Student Summit

This World is Ours to Build: 2018 Indigenous Women & Women of Color Student Summit

Flower with shades of blue petals. Center of flower is a white circle, inside is hand-written text that reads "This world is ours to build." Under the flower in cursive hand-written text: "Indigenous Women & Women of Color Student Summit."

The Indigenous Women and Women of Color Student Summit, organized by the Women's Center, takes place every other year. We were proud to partner with the Carlson School of Management in organizing the most recent summit, which took place at the University of Minnesota on Saturday, March 24, 2018. Read a recap and reflection on the summit over on our blog, and check back here in the future for information on the fifth biennial summit, which will be held in the spring of 2020.








About the 2018 Summit: This World is Ours to Build

This summit is by and for indigenous women and women of color students to learn from each other, network, and explore leadership, personal, and professional development. The summit prioritizes and centers the voices and experiences of women-identified indigenous students and students of color. The theme of the 2018 summit was inspired by civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama, who said, “Remember that consciousness is power… Tomorrow’s world is yours to build.” We were also influenced by Alicia Garza, activist and co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter, who reminded us, “This is the time for us to not just dream about what could be, but also start to build alternatives that we want to see.” 

Summit Keynote: Autumn Brown

Autumn Brown delivered the 2018 Keynote at the Indigenous Women and Women of Color Student Summit: This World is Ours to Build. Autumn Brown is a mother, organizer, theologian, artist, and facilitator. She is a worker-owner of AORTA, the Anti-Oppression Resource & Training Alliance, a cooperative devoted to strengthening movements for social justice and a solidarity economy through facilitation, political education, and consulting. She is the co-host of the podcast, How to Survive the End of the World, with her sister, adrienne maree brown. Autumn writes speculative fiction and creative non-fiction. She lives in rural Central Minnesota with her partner and three brilliant children. 





Lunch and learn dialogue with Sasānēhsaeh Pyawasay and Vanessa Goodthunder

The lunch and learn session will feature a discussion between Sasānēhsaeh Pyawasay (Menominee) and Vanessa Goodthunder (C̣aƞṡayapi – Lower Sioux) on what “the work” looks like as community members, scholars, and Indigenous women, with a focus on Indigenous knowledge as a tool for healing and community empowerment. The session will also include a dialogue with Summit participants around what they can do moving forward. Vanessa, a two-time alumna of the U of M, has dedicated her life to learning and teaching her languages (Dakota and Dine). Currently, she serves as the Director of the C̣aƞṡayapi Waḳaƞyeża Owayawa Ṭi- A Dakota Immersion Early Head Start and Preschool. Sasānēhsaeh, who currently serves as the Assistant Director of Diversity and Inclusion of the College of Science and Engineering, recently earned a Ph.D from the U of M. Her work uses a Critical Indigeneity framework to interrogate and address systemic social change in higher education.

Plenary Session with Ayo Clemons and Jessica Lopez Lyman

The plenary invites participants to learn about Healing Justice through discussion and a series of practices ranging from breath exercises to authentic movement in order to ground in our bodies and reflect on our experiences as Women of Color and Indigenous women. Ayo Clemons is an organizer, healer, racial justice advocate and core member of the People’s Movement Center based in south Minneapolis. Jessica Lopez Lyman is a Performance poet, Chicanx and Latinx Studies scholar and organizer who researches art, and social justice.

Concurrent Workshops

Session One: 

A Police Free World
Leilah Abdennabi, MPD150
Emphasis: Activism and/or Community Organizing, Community Building, Well-Being

Reproductive Justice and Self-Care
Lauren Eldridge, University of Minnesota
Emphasis: Intersecting Identities, Well-Being

Envisioning Our Utopia: What Are We ACTUALLY Doing?
Emma Saks and Eloho Urhieyovwe, University of Minnesota
Emphasis: Community Building, Well-Being

Colorism in the Media
Faustina Cuevas and Atosha Rypa, University of Minnesota
Emphasis: Community Building, Intersecting Identities, Well-Being

Session Two: 

State Violence Between Borders: US, Israel and Tactics of Control
Leilah Abdennabi, Malak Shahin, Josina Manu Malzman, Palestinian Youth Movement
Emphasis: Activism and/or Community Organizing, Community Building, Intersecting Identities

The Solidarity Question: A Convo Between Indigenous & Black Communities
Stephanie Chrismon and Sasānēhsaeh Pyawasay, University of Minnesota
Emphasis: Community Building

Utilizing Art for Intergenerational Healing
Heather C. Lou, Metropolitan State University
Emphasis: Community Building, Intersecting Identities, Well-Being

Now What? Creating Space for Our Movements to Thrive
Amber Jones, University of Minnesota alum
Emphasis: Activism and/or Community Organizing, Community Building


Thank You to Our Summit Co-Sponsors!

Diamond Partners

  • Carlson School of Management
  • Multicultural Student Engagement, Office of Student Affairs
  • TCF Bank
  • College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences Office for Diversity and Inclusion
  • Center for Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Public Health, School of Public Health


Gold Partners

  • Race, Indigeneity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Initiative
  • Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, Office for Equity and Diversity
  • University Indigenous Women and Women of Color
  • Housing and Residential Life
  • Metropolitan State University


Maroon Partners

  • MLK Jr. Program, College of Liberal Arts
  • President's Emerging Scholars, College of Liberal Arts
  • Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota

Summit History and Background

The inaugural summit, Safe Spaces, Critical Connections, was held in 2011 and centered around the themes of community-building, activism, leadership, and dialogue. The second summit, Loving Each Other Harder: Women of Color, Community and the Intersections of Our Identities*, was a continuation of the conversations that began in 2011. This conference took place in March 2014, and was an opportunity for attendees to examine these ideas in the context of intersectionality. A mini-conference, Being My Sister's Keeper: Supporting Each Other Through Action, was held in March 2015. 

The third summit, held in March 2016, continued and expanded upon past conference themes, and provided an opportunity for attendees to examine these ideas in the context of leadership, confidence, and cultural strengthWhat are the multiple identities of women of color? How do they affect the learning, leading and living experiences of women of color students, particularly at predominantly white institutions (PWIs)? How do these identities affect how women of color see and work with one another?

In 2016, we re-named this bi-annual event (formerly titled Women of Color Student Conference) as the Indigenous Women and Women of Color Student Summit. Dr. Debbie Reese, at the American Indians in Children's Literature website, provides a resource that may be helpful in understanding why we chose to rename this bi-annual event.

*We are inspired by and graciously credit Maegan Ortiz (mamitamala) for the creation of the language of “loving each other harder” and Jessica Marie Johnson, author of Diaspora Hypertext, for her writing featuring the same language.

Pictured: Plenary session with the People's Movement Center on healing justice at the March 2016 Indigenous Women and Women of Color Student Summit: Igniting Leadership, Confidence, and Cultural Strength