Over the course of November, CSU has been celebrating Native American History Month with a variety of events to raise awareness of the Native American population and its history, both on campus and in the surrounding Fort Collins community.
“Our goal is to create the cultural awareness that Native Americans are here and are very proud,” said Haley Ruybal, a senior fine arts major and self-identified Native American.
According to CSU Institutional Research, there are 104 students at CSU that identify as Native American.
The Native American Cultural Center (NACC), one of CSU’s diversity offices, planned guest speakers, a food sampling session at The Aspen Grille and information sessions over the course of the month to bring attention to the fact that many Native American tribes are from the Northern Colorado area.
“A lot of students don’t realize what native tribes were in this area –– they assume that Colorado started with French trappers,” said Ty Smith, director of the Native American Resource Center.
Along with Native American Heritage Month, the cultural center works to increase awareness across the board.
“There is often misinterpretation and stereotyping of Native Americans –– it is evident in Halloween costumes, theme parties, Hollywood movies and especially the media,” Smith said.
Many students visit NACC on a regular basis and more are encouraged to stop by.
“It serves as a resource for native students to figure out the ins and outs of college, and also meet people they can identify with and eventually trust,” Ruybal said.
The resource center offers a variety of programs for students, including the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and the Native American Student Association (NASA). There are also weekly mentoring sessions for incoming freshmen and transfer students.
“We aim to build a community and a place that feels like home,” Ruybal said, “We make a point to reach out.”
NACC has an open-door policy and offers its services to any student that happens to walk into the office.
“Our doors are open to any student,” Ruybal said. “We welcome everyone regardless of race or creed.”