Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center (JWECC)

Dr. Josephine White Eagle photo Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center is named in honor of Dr. Josephine White Eagle for her involvement in advocacy and mentorship of Native students on campus and someone who was involved in the early developments of a culture center for Native students. Its first home was in Knowlton Residence Hall and in 1993 was relocated to Chadbourne Residence Hall. 

Adapted from History of the Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center by Paul Oberheim, Cultural Center Fellow, spring 2018.

Parking available in Lot 49 after 5:00 p.m. Transportation Services offers additional information for parking on campus.

To access the center please call (413) 545-4932 to ask a staff to meet you at the main entrance of Chadbourne Hall and open the door for you. During the hours of 8:00 - 9:00 p.m., you will be asked to sign in and show identification at the security desk and confirm a visit to the center, and to sign out before leaving the building. 
For additional information visitors are encouraged to review the Security and Safety Guidelines for Residential Hall Access.

Hours of Operation:
Monday-Thursday, 3:00-10:00pm

Contact Information:
Chadbourne Hall, Basement
Phone Number:  413-545-4932

Plural Histories of the Cultural Centers
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FALL 2023



JWECC Finals and Study Sessions

Moccasins Workshop
Monday, October 30 | 4-8pm
JWECC - Chadbourne Hall, B-3

Moccasins Workshop











Learn how to create your own pair of moccasins. No experience required. Guided instruction and materials will be provided.

RSVP to Michelle Youngblood at and arrive at the JWECC at 4 p.m.

JWECC Beading Night
Wednesday, November 1 | 5-7pm
Chadbourne Hall, B-3 (lower level)
Central Residential Area

JWECC Beading Night








You are invited to join us in kicking off the start of Native American Heritage Month with a beading night! Come and learn how to bead, continue your old projects, or start a new one! No experience necessary!



Lei-Making Workshop
Sunday, November 5 | 1-4pm
Wilder Hall, rm. 102

Lei-Making Workshop














The Hawaiian Lei is a symbol of affection, love, respect and honor.  It also reflects the creativity and artistry of Hawaiian culture.  To celebrate Native American Heritage Month, join us in creating your own lei under the guidance and facilitation of Ms. Roberta Uno.

Roberta Uno's bio:  Born in Honolulu and raised in Los Angeles, Roberta Māpuana Uno is a theater director and the founder of Arts in a Changing America. Her recent theater works include directing We the Peoples Before at the Kennedy Center, in honor of the 25th Anniversary of the First Peoples Fund and Try/Step/Trip by Dahlak Brathwaite. A haumāna of Kumu Hula Vicky Holt Takamine, she co-leads hālau Pua Aliʻi ʻIlima o Nūioka in New York City and is a haumāna ʻŌlelo Hawai'i of Kumu Naʻilima Gaison. She also served 2018 and 2019 as the Artistic Director, ʻŌlino Arts, for the Liliʻuokalani Trust, piloting performing arts programs for Native Hawaiian youth on Oʻahu and Maui. From 2002-2013 she was the Program Officer and Senior Program Officer, for U.S. Arts and Culture, at the Ford Foundation. She was the Founder and Artistic Director of the New WORLD Theater 1979-2002, and Professor, Directing and Dramaturgy,  in the UMass Amherst Department of Theater. She is co-editor of the forthcoming book Future/Present: Culture in a Changing America (Duke University Press 2024).

Supplies provided.  Limited space for 20 participants.  To join, RSVP to Michelle at by November 2.

Marianela Medrano
Monday, November 6 | 4–6 p.m.
Floor 26, Room 2601
W.E.B. Du Bois Library

Marianela Medrano











Marianela Medrano, an Afro-Taina poet, is the featured guest. She will read, present, and discuss her work on Taino Goddesses of the Caribbean.

Marianela Medrano was born and raised in the island of Quisqueya, also known as Ayiti, in the country today called Dominican Republic. She has lived in Connecticut since 1990. An Afro-Taína poet and a writer of non-fiction and fiction, she holds a PhD in psychology, a professional counselor’s license and certification as a poetry therapist. She has researched and written many publications about Taíno heritage and has also served as an educator for her people. Her work and writings on Taíno culture include her 2007 doctoral dissertation Empowering Dominican women: The divine feminine in Taíno spirituality; her books Diosas de la yuca (2011) and Rooting (2017); and the articles “Writing our way to Taíno spirituality: Finding a sense of self, Journal of Poetry Therapy, (2009); “The Ciguapa Speaks: Dominican Women in the 21st Century​​,” Kacike: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology (2009); and a TED Talk at Ursuline College A Ciguapa Speaks: On How I Came to Value Wholeness; as well as multiple essays. 

She writes: “The name of my birthplace is Copey, which in Taíno or Arawak language means “flower.” It was in Copey where the seeds of my academic work were first planted. There I was drawn to the way of my ancestors, inscribed in  day-to-day social practices, and even in our childhood games and backyard “expeditions” where we would dig out Taíno ceramics that we used as our toys, unknowingly touching a part of the fabric of who we were as a people.”

“Dominican poet Marianela Medrano, in her collection of poems Diosas de la Yuca, goes beyond any utopian project or attempt at building a national myth to explore Taina spirituality, rooting it in the immediacy of individual Dominican experience. More than a mere literary trope, the indigenous in Medrano s poetry is proposed as a living force and a key cultural element by which the Dominican can shape his or her subjectivity and thus resist and overcome the divisions and erasures caused by the original trauma of the Spanish conquest and the current experience of living simultaneously in the here and there of diaspora.” ~Christopher McGrath

This event is made possible with Mellon Foundation funds via a Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies mini-grant.Co-sponsored by the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success and the Center for Latin American Caribbean and Latino Students

Dreamcatcher Night
Thursday, November 9 | 6-8pm
Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center
Chadbourne Hall, B-3, Lower Level

Dreamcatcher's Night








Come and learn the rich history and meaning of 'dreamcatchers' and later create one for you.  Supplies provided!  You can also bring your own



Corn Husk Doll Making - This event has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

Tuesday, November 7 | 5–7 p.m.
JWECC, Chadbourne Hall, B-3
Central Residential Area

Corn Husk Doll Making










Northeastern Native Americans made dolls for their children out of woven and braided corn husks decorated with fabric or horsehair and sometimes flowers and beads. Join the Josephine White Eagle Staff as we welcome Cherokee Elder Joyce White Deer Vincent as she teaches us about the history of the corn husk doll and how to make one.

Joyce White Deer Vincent is a retired director of the cultural centers. She is of mixed Cherokee and African American ancestry. She has been a part of the Amherst Native community for more than four decades and loves sharing her wisdom through storytelling and poetry.

 Intertribal Social

Saturday, November 18 | 5–9 p.m.
Amherst Room, 10th Floor, Campus Center

 InterTribal SocialJoin the Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center for traditional drumming, social dancing, and delicious food. Guest drum Iron River and Kingfisher Singers and Dancers will lead us in social dances so come prepared to have a fun time and enjoy community.

Brought to you by the Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center.

"The Taíno People and Survivance: Yesterday, Today & in the Future."
Monday, November 20 | 4-6 pm 
W. E. B. Du Bois Library, 26th Floor, Room 2601

 Yesterday, Today and in the Future













Join us in a special presentation about Taino survival and continuance by two national and local taino leaders, Valerie Tureiyari vargas and Jorge Baracutei Estevez

Taínos, inhabitants of Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas, were the first Native American people to experience, as well as resist, European colonization beginning in 1492 and continuing to this day. Yet many of us were taught that Taínos became extinct. Knowledge about Taíno culture survived and in some places thrived, but it was also constantly threatened by violence, the myth of extinction, and policies of physical genocide as well as “paper genocide.” 


Kasike Jorge Baracutay Estevez is currently the leader of Higuayagua Taíno Luku Kairi, which organizes Native families and individuals, recovers Indigenous cultural practices, and participates in exchanges with Arawak and other Native communities. As an independent researcher, Estévez has led and collaborated on multidisciplinary initiatives to document and interpret the legacy of Native peoples across the greater Caribbean region. A veteran museum educator, he has developed innovative hands-on and didactic learning experiences for young people, families, and educators at the National Museum of the American Indian. He was a core member of the research and curatorial team that organized the 2018-2019 Smithsonian exhibition Taíno: Native Heritage and Identity in the Caribbean. Estévez is also a former member of the award-winning powwow group, the Arawak Mountain Singers. In addition, Estevez has recently published a Taíno dictionary; this effort is not a revival of the classic Taíno languages but a reconstruction using recorded and surviving Taíno words combined with cognates from related Arawak languages such as Lokono, Wayu, Baniwa, Tariana, Wapishana, and Garifuna. In a recent article for the Smithsonian American Indian Magazine, he writes: “The Taíno were the first to make contact with the Spaniards, the first enslaved and the first to rebel. We are the first mixed-blood Indians who fell victim to the Spanish pen that wrote us out of history. We have written ourselves back.”

Valerie Tureiyari Vargas, a Taíno activist, Registered Nurse and mother, “does whatever she can to help her people.” She and her husband, Jorge Baracutay Estevez, have given numerous lectures and presentations throughout the country on the history and culture of the Taíno people. She is Bahari for Union Higuayagua Taíno of the Caribbean, an organization dedicated to the pursuit of ancestral knowledge, cultural endeavors and the strengthening of the Taíno community. Their goals and projects include: areitos (social gatherings where dance, native Taíno foods, educational slideshows, and Taíno exhibits are presented); art shows for contemporary Taíno artists; language programs; history programs; arts and crafts workshops.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success’ Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center and the Center for Latin American Caribbean and Latinx Studies.

This event is made possible with Mellon Foundation funds via a Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies mini-grant.

For more information, contact Isabel Espinal,



JWECC Kick Off Party













Tuesday, September 19
Chadbourne Hall, Lower Level
Central Residential Area


Come and play 'This Land Trivia ( Indigenous people trivia),' enjoy Indian Tacos and learn how to bead with Annika!

Come one, come all!