In the 2018 fall issue of NSU’s American Indian Profile, Native Americans made up approximately 30% of the student body. There are two centers on campus that are working together to provide as many resources as possible for those Native students and create learning opportunities for their non-Native counterparts. The Center for Tribal Studies, which is located at the Zoe Davis House, is one of those centers.
“The Center for Tribal Studies is one of the central resources on campus for enriching the cultural heritage of the Northeastern State University community,” said Sara Barnett, director at CTS. “It was created in 1990, but was initially focused on research, with events such as planning the Symposium on the American Indian, and providing professional development of local schools. Now, the mission still includes those things, but it also includes supporting Native students and serving as a cultural resource for our community.”
Three years ago, CTS helped secure, and was awarded, the NASNTI Grant, which began Oct. 1, 2016. It became known as the Native American Support Center and is located on the second floor of the John Vaughan Library in Tahlequah. The grant is set to expire Sept. 30, 2021.
“NASC will be entering its fourth year on Oct. 1 this year,” said Shelly Dreadfulwater, director at NASC. “NASC is a temporary program that is housed under CTS and works as an extension of their existing programming and services to students.”
While the mission of both offices is geared toward Native American students, they both welcome in students and community members.
“NASC is open to all students,” said Jade Hansen, advisement and career specialist at NASC. “We encourage non-Native students who want to be involved to join our student organizations, which opens an array of new opportunities. Looking back to my undergraduate career, I was not fortunate enough for a program like this because not every institution has a program like NASC. Its unique and adds more to the student experience.”
The staff in both offices work in tandem with each other to ensure students have every available opportunity. These organizations host over 40 events per year, which showcase ideals such as: leadership, mentorship, engagement, prevention, and intervention.
“CTS hosts a number of scholarly and cultural events that are always free and open for anyone to attend,” said Alisa Douglas, coordinator of student programs at CTS. “Although the majority of the events are Native focused, anyone can attend and have an opportunity to learn about the culture and heritage of tribal nations. Some even provide great resources for students interested in internships and summer research opportunities.”
Representation is a key point to both entities as they attempt to include Native students in all of their programming, such as tutoring services, leadership programs, and workshops.
“We need a Native paradigm,” said Sky Wildcat, student services coordinator. “A way of thinking, a way of living. As a Native-serving institution, we will only retain students by ensuring our policies, programming, curriculum, and mindset is founded on Indigenous values.”
For more information, visit CTS on Facebook at NSU Center for Tribal Studies, or call 918-444-4350. Visit NASC on Facebook at NSU Native American Support Center, or call 918-444-3042.