Many people may not associate tacos with Native Americans, but today a new awareness about Native American culture and one of their taco dishes will be available on the Lory Student Center Plaza.
The taco sale, organized by the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and the Native American Student Association, is in honor of the 37th anniversary of the American Indian Civil Rights Act. Money from the sale will benefit both programs.
Joe Robertson, member of American Indian Science and Engineering Society, said he is looking forward to getting a chance to share his culture with the rest of the student body.
"We just would like people to be aware of our history," said Robertson, the senior math major. "It's still an important piece of Native American legislation."
The food is also significant. The tacos will be made on traditional fry bread. Robertson said this became a staple of Native Americans when they were moved onto reservations and the government rationed supplies to the tribes.
"Fry bread originates from scarce commodities," Robertson said.
There will be a choice of beef or seasoned beans and other toppings, according to AISES President Eric Heim. He said they have sold tacos in the past and had a great response.
"The tacos were sold out in less time than was projected," the senior sociology major wrote in an e-mail. "This is a delicious food that most people have never had the opportunity to enjoy, and we invite everyone to try it."
The lunch is an effort to raise awareness about the importance of the anniversary of the passage of the act, which gave Native Americans civil rights and tribal sovereignty.
The act gave Native Americans protection under the Bill of Rights and also gave them the right to be an independent nation.
Native American Student Services Director Ty Smith said he thinks the act is significant because it took so long for the government to extend civil rights to Native Americans. He also said that granting tribes sovereignty was important.
Tribal sovereignty gives Native Americans "the right granted by the U.S. Constitution that allows American Indian tribes the right to establish their own governments, whose laws will be recognized as being among the 'supreme laws of the land,'" according to a flier that will be passed out during the taco sale.
But Smith said the tribes' sovereignty has been challenged and Native Americans have had to defend this right in court.
Organizers hope that the information that they pass out will also educate the community more about Native Americans and their culture.
"I think the average student know little to nothing about the (act)," Heim said. "Unfortunately, what most people think they know about native people is not accurate. We plan to have a separate civil rights act information area with information on the (act), as well as general information, and information that deals with false stereotypes."
But not all students think this will make the community more aware of the history of Native Americans.
Kim Tesar, a freshman art major, said she had talked about the act in her seminar, but that she didn't know much about it otherwise. She said she thought the sale would heighten awareness for the day, but afterward students would forget about it.
"That's not the fault of the program, just Americans in general," Tesar said.