Native American student groups gather to celebrate heritage
Carey Flack, The Oklahoma Daily
A tepee constructed on a main university thoroughfare may be a curious sight in today’s world, but 200 years ago it was not such an unusual event.
OU’s American Indian Student Association celebrated its heritage Monday by erecting a tepee and performing ceremonies, along with several other Native American student groups.
American Indian Student Life, Sigma Nu Alpha Gamma and Gamma Delta Pi members all took part in the ceremonies.
Just as many classes were letting out Monday morning, Native American students, alumni and faculty marched up the South Oval singing and chanting to the beat of a drum.
Around 45 people, many dressed in traditional costumes, took part in the event with several onlookers.
American Indian Student Life President Corey Still opened the ceremony by recognizing Native American Student Leaders and performing a song in his native language.
Molly Shi Boren, Choctaw tribe member, spoke to the group after being introduced by Clarke Stroud, vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students.
Boren briefly recounted the history of native art at the university, saying it can be found in almost every building on campus.
“As anyone walks around this campus, they can’t miss the native art,” Boren said.
718 students represent 30 different Oklahoma tribes at the university. The other 1265 students represent out-of-state tribes or didn’t list a specific tribe, Boren said.
“I hope you share with fellow students, who are not Native American, your story, your culture and your history,” Boren said.
American Indian Student Life members then presented Boren with an honorary blue shawl.
Lindy Waters, Student Life associate director, also spoke at the event.
Waters explained how originally the American Indian Heritage Celebration was originally a week of events that were expanded to a month.
After a few years, the month-long celebration was extended to blanket the entire spring semester with events, Waters said.
Boren and the student groups followed the speaking portion of the celebration with a round dance. In this dance, males formed a small inner circle and females formed a large outer circle with every person dancing in a circle.
Following this, small groups then went into the tepee and partook in a ceremony with cedar burning in a skillet.
Corrections: The original story incorrectly misidentified Sigma Nu Alpha Gamma as Sigma Alpha Gamma.