Since the NAL’s establishment, Native American students and faculty have been striving to make their voices heard and support their community members. In 1971, OSU student and Klamath tribal member LaVonne Lobert gave an in-depth interview to OSU’s The Daily Barometer expressing both her struggles and her pride as a Native American. (3) In 1983, when Linc Kesler, of Oglala Lakota heritage and currently the Director of the University of British Columbia First Nations House of Learning, first arrived at OSU as a faculty member, he partnered with the Educational Opportunities Program to form OSU’s Indian Education Office (later called the Office of American Indian Initiatives) to provide support and resources for Native students. (4) Notably, thirty years later, while Kesler says the situation is currently better for Native Americans, there is still more that can be done. (5)
In an effort to continue to share their stories, each year the NAL organizes various events, most notably in November for Native American Heritage Month and in May for a spring PowWow and Salmon Bake. All events are open to the OSU and local community. Heritage Month events often reflect the muli-faceted and diverse traditions of Native American communities and include educational lectures as well as crafting workshops on topics such as making dream-catchers and bead-weaving. The spring PowWow is sponsored by the Native American Student Association, which works in collaboration with the NAL, and is a two-day event featuring dancing, singing, and socializing. The annual spring salmon bake, a tradition with roots in the Pacific Northwest and practiced by many tribes in the region, is an opportunity to strength the relationships between OSU and Oregon’s tribal communities. (6)
The NAL is a place for both Native American and non-Native American students. To express this sentiment, after the construction of the new NAL, staff member Carmen López shared the significance of the words “Eena Haws”:
“Eena” means “beaver” and then “Haws” means “house.” So it was kind of emphasizing that you don’t have to be Native American to come to the Longhouse, because we’re all Beavers. All OSU students, alumni are welcome into the community. (7)
Photos and Sources Cited
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- Former NAL Quonset Hut, circa 2000.
- Salmon Bake, 2012.