In addition to the every day challenges college students face, an added struggle is trying to create a new feeling of home. The Native American Student Association works to build the Native American community, as well as provide resources to students and events around campus.
“Having a community is really important to us and we place a high value on family,” says Nicole Welch, NASA vice president. The group’s goal is to have a space where Native students can feel at home in a tight-knit community. NASA is involved on and off campus and encourages others to join.
Welch emphasizes the importance of misconceptions and stereotypes there are about the Native American community. A common fallacy is how funding works for Native American students. It’s urged one to does some research on the subject before making bold claims.
“There are over 500 tribes in the U.S. We may have a lot in common, but every tribe is different,” Welch says. Many people do not realize that just because they share the umbrella term “Native American” they do not all share the same culture and belief system.
Although Natives are commonly known for their gift of storytelling, there are also many great artists skilled in everything from painting to bead working. In addition, “Natives are known for their sense of humor. Befriend a Native and you will find out … really we’re pretty great!” Welch says.
Through the month of November there are many events around campus to honor Native American Heritage Month. A few that Welch was most looking forward to are the “Poetry Reading and Open Mic Night” as well as the “American Indian Public Health in North Dakota” presentation. Both of these events are held on Friday, November 20. The Public Health presentation will be in the Hidatsa room of the Memorial Union from noon-1 p.m. Poetry and Open Mic Night will be in the Mandan room of the Memorial Union from 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
There are many other programs and events happening around campus whose information can be found in the Office of Multicultural Programs located on the main floor of Memorial Union or on its website. Members of NASA will be attending all of the events, “So if you need anybody to sit by, come and find us!” Welch says.