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CMU sophomore student-athlete and Native American Student Association Coordinator Sadie Kelley shares Oneida history and humor

CMU’s International Student Programs and Tomlinson Library hosted the final Cultural Café for the Fall 2022 semester on November 16. Sadie Kelley (Yewelahawi, “she brings the wind”) shared Native American history, dances, philosophy and humor with a full house. Nearly every seat in the Library Event Space was full.

The Cultural Café program was created in 2017 to introduce cultures and customs from around the world to the campus community and each presentation is paired with authentic cuisine. Today they served fry bread, Oneida corn soup with hominy and strawberry punch.

Kelley is a sophomore studying Political Science and Sport Management, a Maverick golfer and coordinator of the Native American Student Association on campus. She is a citizen of the Oneida Nation, which originally shared geography with present-day upstate New York. Her ancestors were forcibly removed from their original homelands in 1883 and relocated to present-day Wisconsin, along Duck Creek.

Kelley shared several YouTube videos to illustrate the way her nation continues to evolve. One video featured men in traditional dress performing the Smoke Dance, which was traditionally done by male warriors returning from battle. The next video showed a version of the dance later developed for women that made ceremonies more inclusive. She also shared video clips and memes featuring humorous takes on the modern native experience. In addition to traditional raised beaded moccasins and corn husk dolls she brought to show the audience, Kelly shared her “Fry Bread and Chill” button, saying she loves to see native concepts in pop culture.

After graduation from CMU, Kelley’s goal is to go on to law school and become an attorney. She wants to build a career preserving and protecting the sovereignty of Native Nations. What guides her decision-making personally and in her career is the Haudenosaunee Seventh Generation Principle which is the philosophy that any decisions made today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future.   

Tomlinson Library will feature three Cultural Café events in Spring 2023 semester, one each in February, March and April. Details will be posted on the CMU Library Events and Workshops page as they are finalized.


Written by Hannah Odneal