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Outing Club hosts Len Necefer to kick off virtual long speaker series

October 2, 2020

The Bowdoin Outing Club (BOC) launched its first virtual speaker series on Thursday with a talk by Len Necefer co-hosted by the Native American Students Association (NASA). Each event in the semester-long series is accessible on CampusGroups and open to all students, regardless of their membership status with the BOC.

Necefer, who is Navajo, is an assistant professor of American Indian studies and environmental policy at the University of Arizona. He is also the founder of Natives Outdoors, an outdoor apparel focused on indigenous engagement and empowerment. He offers a unique perspective on how to connect with the outdoor sustainably and respect its indigenous roots.

Amanda Cassano ’22, a leader of NASA, expressed her hope that the talk encourages a better understanding of Native communities’ connection to land. She was excited welcoming Necefer to Bowdoin virtually.

“I’m interested to hear how [he] envisions a society where we can balance respect for Native communities’ connection to places with outdoor people’s desire to recreate with the land and waters,” wrote Cassano in an email to the Orient before Necefer’s talk.

The BOC hopes to make their speaker sessions relevant to more students by collaborating with various departments and organizations on campus.

“[A]major part of the speaker series is bringing in different people with different perspectives to talk about ways that … communities across America [and] across the world have different abilities to access the outside, [as well as the] different ways these groups may or may not be able to interact with the outdoors,” said BOC officer Cooper Dart ’21 in a Zoom interview with the Orient.

Dart anticipates that the College community can learn about and initiate conversations on how the outdoors intersects with broader issues of environmental and racial justice, as well as discussions on inclusivity and diversity that are happening on campus and across the country.

The BOC is utilizing this time of change to reframe the club’s goals. Dart hopes that by doing so, the leadership team will increase inclusivity and ultimately incorporate more members of the student body.

Cassano voiced an appreciation of the BOC’s recent inclusivity initiatives.

“We are eager to support the BOC’s continuing work to not only become more inclusive … but to become sincere advocates for Indigenous ideals … [including] a culture of respect and care towards the land and waters, while promoting understanding of Indigenous nations’ traditional methods of stewardship,” Cassano wrote in an email to the Orient.

The BOC handled most of the planning and logistics involved with inviting Necefer to the speaker series, Cassano explained. NASA was tasked with presenting a land acknowledgment at the beginning of the talk that recognized the Wabanaki people as the original inhabitants of the land around Brunswick.

“We’ve enjoyed collaborating with the BOC in the past, as they actively listen to our input and take the initiative to inform themselves on Indigenous issues,” Cassano wrote. “The BOC has been incredibly supportive of NASA, and we are excited to strengthen our relationship by co-hosting more events in the future!”

Future speakers for BOC’s virtual series have yet to be announced, but Kate Schide, professional mountain runner and geology PhD candidate, is confirmed to speak with the Bowdoin community on October 8. This session will be co-hosted with the earth and oceanographic science department.

“This is a time when…it becomes much harder to get outside, particularly for immunocompromised people in communities where it is less safe to move around outside,” said Dart. “We’re hoping [the virtual speaker series] is a way of reimagining what it means to be outside and make people feel more comfortable and engaged.”


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