It is a special time to remember and honor Native American alumnae who are part of our AADC alumnae community. Alumna Stephanie Duckworth, Class of 1996, pictured, is a Native American award-winning children’s book author and a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah. Stephanie is committed to inclusiveness, with the ability to work effectively with diverse groups and key community leaders and organizations. She has worked with countless Native American Tribes throughout the United States in strategic planning, development and training. Among previous leadership positions she brings to her work are having served as Executive Director of the Educational Leadership Foundation of New Jersey and the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Urban League of Bergen County New Jersey. For more than two decades, she taught at Rutgers University, as well as other institutions, including Princeton University.
"As a Wampanoag scholar, mother, and friend, my message during Native American Heritage month is not only 'Not to forget,' but to 'involve, include and understand' our collective history as it dictates our future," says Stephanie.
She continues, "Since the 1970’s many Native Americans gather at noon on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Morning on the national Thanksgiving holiday. Since I cannot make my way to Plymouth every year, I do the next best thing. I go to be one with nature and call upon our ancestors and ask them to heal our people so we may rise someday and be whole again. Doing this is a reminder of the murder of millions of our people, the theft of our lands and the relentless assault on our culture. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which we as Wampanoags continue to experience."
We are stronger when we move forward together in solidarity and are able to value, include, respect and embrace our differences. In doing so, we make our community, the country and the world a better place.
"We are reminded that Native American Heritage Day is a time to reflect upon how we value and respect one another," says AADC Executive Director Valerie Anderson '81. "It is a time that we must ask ourselves how we can do more."
Many alumnae have participated in workshops offered through the AADC Excellence in Inclusion and Equity Initiative that began last year. Our recent virtually-hosted series of anti-racism workshops have been widely accepted. These workshops and future workshops to come, provide a place for our alumnae community to build on intrinsic trust and to discuss how we can advance equity and inclusion in the context of uncomfortable realities. Through these opportunities, we as individuals will be better able to recognize situations of exclusion and feel more empowered to use our influence to help others gain access.