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Indigenous Nuance: Olivia Maybee is a Change Maker

By Maxmillian Robinson

In 2020, Olivia Maybee, now a senior fine arts major, advocated for better representation of Native voices and issues on campus. Maybee, who was born in Buffalo, New York, and grew up on the Cattaraugus territory, part of the Seneca Nation, joined with Sophia Powless ’20, a member of the Onondaga Nation, to launch the Indigenous People’s Awareness Coalition (IPAC) at Adelphi.

Olivia Maybee, a member of the Seneca Nation and a fine arts and business management major, hopes to make a difference by spreading awareness for BIPOC members. Photo from Instagram: @bambi_om

Out of an undergraduate body of 4,939 students, only 0.5 percent identify as Native American. That’s why IPAC highlighted November, National Native American Heritage month, to celebrate America’s indigenous culture. IPAC worked with AU leadership to host the first celebration on campus, which included virtual educational programs like, “The Origins of Lacrosse,” which explored the traditional origin of the sport. This year, since Maybee is the only undergraduate leader of IPAC left, IPAC will be discontinued after the fall 2021 semester because she is graduating in May.

But recently, The Delphian had the chance to catch up with her to ask about her recent works of art, her nonprofit Wenotawisas of Sacred Land and its importance and the future career plans she is considering.

The Delphian: How have your personal experiences helped create an impact while attending Adelphi?

Maybee: Having the unique background of being involved in federal-tribal politics at a young age gave me the perspective that I would even have the power to create change as a singular individual, especially at a higher academic institute. When sharing my outlook and perspective through IPAC, I have received lots of praise/recognition from the students, faculty and staff for my initiatives and visions for the future. It has been the first time that I have experienced this level of support from a university. I credit Adelphi for having a unique diversity and support system, ultimately attracting me to attend.

Q. What is your role in the nonprofit Wenotawisas of Sacred Land ?

A. After the end of the spring 2020 semester, I returned home to my territory. A community member was found murdered. That was when the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women epidemic became a reality for me. I was then inspired to create a nonprofit women's group founded on empowerment and upliftment of Seneca women. We started in July 2021, conducting meetings and sharing ideas to spread more awareness.

Q. Do you feel that Adelphi can improve culturally and socially? Are there any steps you believe we should take in regards to diversity?

A. Changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day. We should also offer scholarship opportunities to youth from federally recognized tribes in the New York State school system.

Q. How can Adelphi and our student body help fix any misconceptions about indigenous people moving forward?

A. The core of answering this question stems from lower education and more specifically the NYS curriculum. We need to better educate our youth on the true and real history of the United States. We have to tell the full story, show the true side of this country's past so we don't make the same mistakes against humanity again.

Maybee plans to continue her advocacy, outreach and initiatives within and outside her community, through her nonprofit, which can be found on Instagram @Wenotawisas_of_sacred_land. Be on the lookout for her senior showcase in the spring, which is an multimedia exhibition highlighting her community and roots.

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