In 2016, the University of Wyoming was proud to host the annual Summer Institute of MALCS (Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social / Women Active in Letters and Social Change) from August 3-6. The University of Wyoming MALCS Summer Institute Site Committee consisted of eighteen Indigenous / Chicana / Mexican / Mixed-blood women (students, staff, and faculty): Alin Yuriko Badillo-Carrillo, Sophia Beck, Michelle Eberle, Ashley Enos, Dr. Vanessa Fonseca, Bianca Estefani Infante de la Cruz, Dr. Joy Landeria, Norma Claudia Lira-Perez, Debra Littlesun, Robyn Lynne Lopez, Anetra Parks, Rachel Sanchez, Dr. Mary Katherine Scott, Dr. Lilia Soto, Reinette T. Tendore, Melanie Vigil, and Co-Chairs Dr. Cecilia Aragón and Irlanda Jacinto.
Here are some important highlights about the 2016 UW MALCS Summer Institute:
- The 2016 MALCS Summer Institute’s participants gathered in a space of significant historical and political meaning which provided a framework in which we examined and addressed the theme: Deconstructing the Equality State: Remnants of Colonialism, Trauma, and Invisibility” in the struggles and challenges of our own lives. The ideas embedded in our Summer Institute theme allowed us the opportunity to think about our past and our present moment.
- The conference featured over 65 panels, workshops, caucuses, and roundtable discussions featuring issues and research such as Chicana feminist praxis, decolonizing methodologies, Indigenous spiritual activism and healing, im/migration, Indian law education and youth politics, incarcerated women of color, folk medicine and remedies, aesthetics of art and cultural identity, educational leadership, violence, trauma and healing practices, Indigenous land rights, Xicana/Indigenous literary and performance analysis, and many other topics. We were honored to have several community members from the Rocky Mountain region and the Wind River Reservation join us for the conference, panels, and discussions.
- Over 15 University of Wyoming colleges, departments, and programs came together to generously support the MALCS conference. Among the major UW sponsors and supporters were: Latina/o Studies Program, American Indian Studies, High Plains American Indian Research Institute, UW Office of Academic Affairs, UW Office of Research and Economic Development, among many other colleges.
- There were 155 Registrants for the conference and over 40 different universities were represented.
- 165 people attended the MALCS opening reception including MALCS members, Laramie community members, and UW community members.
- MALCS Guest Artist, Sarah Ortegon (Northern Arapaho/Eastern Shoshone), was commissioned to produce over 3 new pieces of art work and 1 new installation to compile her exhibit entitled, “Cognizance of Tribalism and Resistance: A Vindicated Destiny.” Her solo exhibit, curated by Jordan Dresser (Northern Arapaho), was the highlight of the MALCS Summer Institute opening reception held at the Centennial Complex Gallery in the lobby of the UW Art Museum and the American Heritage Center. Translation of the artwork labels into Northern Arapaho was done by Wayne C’Hair, Elder and Instructor of the Arapaho language. Translation into Spanish was conducted by Irlanda Jacinto. Guest dancers at the Opening Reception were Huitzilopochtli Aztec Dance Group.
- The 3 public plenary sessions brought together all attendees to hear from some of the most inspiring and influential thought leaders in our field. The plenaries were:
- In the Shadow of Hegemony: Discourses on Gender, Trauma, ICWA, and Cultural Appropriation, featuring speakers Lisa M. Calderón, J.D., Director of the Community Reentry Project; Nicky Kay Michael, Ph.D., (Delaware), Professor of Native American Studies at the University of Wyoming; and Kristen Carpenter, J.D., (Cherokee), Council Tree Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School.
- United Against the Man: Conversations with Three Chingonas About How to Fight Ongoing Colonialists Practices, featuring speakers Dolores Delgado Bernal, Ph.D., Professor of Education and Ethnic Studies at the University of Utah; Jeanette Haynes Writer, Ph.D., (Cherokee), Professor of Curriculum & Instruction at New Mexico State University; and Jennie Luna, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Chicana/o Studies at California State University, Channel Islands.
- Caring for our Communities: Culture and Tradition as a Pathway to Healing, featuring speakers Elicia Goodsoldier (Dine’/Spirit Lake Dakota), Co-founder of the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council for the National Alliance on Mental Illness; Kelly Webb, Director of Eastern Shoshone Recovery; and Sunny Goggles, Director of the White Buffalo Recovery Center on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.
- 150 people attended the MALCS Tortuga Awards Banquet. We were pleased to honor 3 women at the Tortuga Awards: the MALCS Tortuga Awardee was Rosalía Solórzano Torres, a pioneer in Chicana/o Studies; the Wyoming MALCS Lifetime Leadership Awardee was Judith (Judy) Antell (Minnesota Cheppewa Tribe), founding Director of University of Wyoming American Indian Studies Program and the High Plains American Indian Research Institute; and the Wyoming MALCS Service and Leadership Awardee was Ann Redman, founding Director of the Wyoming Latina Youth Conference. The Northern and Southern Plains American Indian Dance Troupe performed at the Banquet, accompanied by John Emhoolah, Jr. (Kiowa)
- Cedar and Flint Folk Musicians entertained participants and community members with their amazing talents at the Noche de Cultura.
The Summer Institute represented a space where we shared different perspectives, learned from each other, and intellectually challenged each other all in the efforts to advance scholarship in our diverse fields of study and to experience the greatest joy of comadreship. We hope that our conversations addressing “…Equality [and] Remnants of Colonialism, Trauma, and Invisibility” had a significant dialogical impact on the local, regional, and national level where we brought to attention spaces of contestation, issues of marginality, and inequalities.
Thank you to all who participated!