Nov 072011
 
Authors: Emily Horn

As a part of Native American Heritage Month, the Native American Cultural Center held a discussion Monday night titled “Revisiting the Cowboys and Indians Incident of 2010.”

The discussion looked at how diversity on campus has changed since a 2010 incident that left the Native American community at CSU feeling uncomfortable.

On Feb. 1, 2010 an event was posted on Facebook with the title, “Wyoming @CSU: Cowboys and Indians. Yeah…an Indian Out.” The event page encouraged participants to dress as stereotypical Native Americans for an upcoming basketball game, and within hours 487 people had confirmed that they would participate and 371 had responded with “maybe.”

Members of the Native American community at CSU were offended by this event, and there were a number of comments on the event page, some of which were very hateful and discriminatory.

“The comments were out of control, both for the event and against it,” said senior natural sciences major Tiffani Kelly, who was a discussion leader at Monday night’s event.

Students organized a rally on the plaza to speak out against this event, which was somewhat of a safety concern because of threats that were present in the Facebook comments.

“We were met with a lot of hatred when we went out on the Plaza,” Kelly said.

Ty Smith, director of the Native American Cultural Center voiced his own concerns about safety surrounding this incident.

“I was really uncomfortable walking out to the parking lot that night by myself,” Smith said. “I hadn’t felt that way before at CSU.”

The discussion leaders brought up that they had not felt concerned or uncomfortable in this way before the incident.

“Before this event happened I felt good about the campus climate and really thought the University was moving forward with diversity and acceptance,” Smith said.

When the event occurred, CSU took action by sending an email to the student body, as well as enhancing the presence of police at the game.

“We did see some students that still dressed up at the game,” Kelly said.

The event was a learning experience for the Native American community as well as CSU as a whole, and changes have been made as a result of it.

Since the incident, there have been many meetings with the president of the university, the vice president of diversity and the vice president of student affairs.

On April 29, 2010 the Native American community on campus brought a letter of concern with a list of demands for improvement to one of these meetings.

Some of these improvements, which have been implemented are: the vice president of diversity has become a full-time position, an online diversity education program has been created for faculty and staff and a Native American legacy award has been created as well.

The discussion showed students not to forget about incidents such as this one, and diversity must be an on-going effort.

Junior sociology major Erin Drysdale found the discussion to be very eye-opening.

“It was definitely very informative, I had never even heard about the incident before,” Drysdale said. “I came to this for an extra credit assignment, but now I plan to come to other events. I have a lot of respect for what they had to say.”

Collegian writer Emily Horn can be reached at news@collegian.com

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