Welcoming the new Ina Haws director

Sydni Zidarevich, Justice, Equity and Diversity Beat Reporter

The Diversity & Cultural Engagement search committee has finalized their decision after countless hours, appointing Agléška (Rebecca) Cohen-Rencountre as the new center director for the Kuku-Ixt Mana Ina Haws. 

Cohen-Rencountre accepted the position Mar. 27 and officially began her new position Mar. 29, during spring break. They are enrolled in the Lower Brule Sioux tribe and stand in solidarity with unrecognized Indigenous and Native nations and people. 

They most recently taught an Indigenous Peoples of Oregon course at the university as an alumni and is currently a PhD candidate in the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities American Studies program, coining themselves a “Duck-Gopher-Beaver!”

“Agléška brings strong theoretical foundations and the passion for the work supporting Indigenous people of the Americas and Pacific Islands, and is excited to share their knowledge and learn from us!” DCE Director, Reagan Le said.

Their research areas include Indigenous Urbanism, Native Feminisms, Native American and Indigenous Studies, which is reflected in her doctoral work, as she studies gender assimilation in Native American residential boarding schools according to the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change at the University of Minnesota. 

This project uses the framework and lens of transnational and feminist studies to better understand the ways in which gender fluidity was made invisible in these institutions.

“I begin this work alongside all of you as a lifelong listener and learner,” Cohen-Rencountre said. 

In a personal message from Cohen-Rencountre that was included in the announcement of her acceptance of the position, they state they have begun a puppet show hobby. 

It is through this newfound hobby that she discovered a children’s play focusing on the first man to land on the moon, that she has found helpful to create “a children/adult puppet show that explores how Indigenous star knowledge can be included in this nation based narrative of belonging.”

“My chosen family of the Indigenous northwest have prepared me to grow, adapt and recognize our shared humanity,” Cohen-Rencountre said.

Current Ina Haws center director, Luhui Whitebear, has not completely transitioned out of her center director role quite yet, as she continues to help the center and is guiding Cohen-Rencountre’s transition through spring term.

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