Oct 282010
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Today, the Lory Student Center Plaza plays host to two Native American traditional song and dance groups and 10-inch pieces of traditional handmade fried bread on sale for $3.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Southern Outlawz and Ram Nation ­–– both American Indian performing groups –– will showcase tribal songs and choreography. These were described as vocal, tonal and without words, with Navajo Indian vocabulary used intermittently throughout the show.

“I think it’s a chance for us to share our culture and our heritage with people in the CSU community,” said Delbert Willie, electrical engineering Ph.D. candidate and lead singer/organizer of the CSU-based group Ram Nation.

Organized by student cultural organization American Indian Science and Engineering Society, AISES, the performance and fried bread sale on the Plaza is a kickoff for Native American Heritage Month and serves as a promotional tool for CSU’s 28th Annual Pow-wow that takes place Saturday from noon to 10 p.m.

“We’ve been planning this event since school started –– our very first meeting,” said Adele Nez, AISES co-president.

The cost of today’s event comes in at $1,745, which was largely paid for by student fees managed by the Student Funding Board, or SFB –– an entity of the Associated Students of CSU.

Overall, AISES requested $19,095 for today and tomorrow’s events from SFB. But when groups request more than $10,000, ASCSU’s Senate must approve the allocation.

AISES received its funding from the legislative body earlier this month after persuading senators that its Native American Heritage Month events would be well marketed to CSU students, and thus, well attended by the campus.

According to Samantha Raso, ASCSU director of Diversity and Outreach, AISES occasions in years past have attracted large Fort Collins crowds, but few attendees were students.

Such observations made it hard for AISES to secure student fees funding for its events last year. To increase the likelihood of a majority vote in favor of allocating the funds, Raso met with the group before it made its request.

Courtney Woolsey, AISES treasurer, said the group raised $9,745 independent from ASCSU Senate through grants, financial assistance from the Native American Culture Center and fundraisers.

To fund its Native American Heritage Month events, the organization has raised $28,840. Student fees comprise 66 percent of the total, which means each CSU student contributes roughly 83 cents to fund the 30-day celebration.

Raso said that AISES, like other student organizations requesting funding, had to detail how its granted $19,000 would be spent.

Other cultural groups have also successfully requested money from ASCSU Senate. Latino-based fraternity Sigma Lamda Beta used funding to host events for Hispanic Heritage Month from September to October.

ASCSU has not officially polled students about whether or not student money should be used to further student-organized cultural events. Information about how to support diversity centers’ on campus programs is acquired through the five assistant directors working in Raso’s department.

Raso said CSU’s focus on diversity has allowed the creation of safe spaces that allow students –– especially of minority groups –– to feel comfortable on campus.

Blanche Hughes, vice president of Student Affairs, was asked by AISES to welcome students to the Plaza performance and encourage people to attend Native American Heritage Month events.

“I think that’s one of the special things about being on a college campus,” she said of the opportunity to experience people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

Staff writer Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:35 pm

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