For the first time ever, CC’s Native American Student Union (NASU) has a tipi, made possible by a cooperative effort across campus. “It has really brought staff and students together,” said Suzi Nishida, advisor to the group.

Photo by Suzi Nishida

The Arapahoe-style tipi features lodgepole pines and is 27 feet tall and 18 feet in diameter. The tipi is being used to raise the profile of NASU on campus, said Carl Slater ’13, who, along with Amber Dornbusch ’11, co-chaired the student organization during the 2010–11 academic year. The selection of an Arapahoe tipi was intentional, Slater said, as Arapahoe Indians frequented the area. “We wanted to make people aware that long before CC existed, there were tipis here,” he said.

The student organization received the tipi in the fall, and first put it up on Cutler Quad in honor of National American Indian Heritage Month in November. The tipi was in use throughout the week — many students stopped by to visit or to read the informational signs posted in front. At least one student camped in the tipi overnight, and others meditated or played music in it. At the end of the week, Slater spoke at the closing ceremony, Joseph Grimely ’13 from Cochiti Pueblo in the Navajo Nation led the group in a closing prayer, and Guojun Lee ’14 and Saraiya Ruano ’13 played Native American flutes.

“It was a great event. It enabled the members of NASU to share with non-native students the pride they have in their culture,” Nishida said. It also was used in April during a Minority Student Admission Open House, when a Native American drum group came to campus.

Nishida recently wrote a grant on behalf of NASU and received funds from CC’s Cultural Attractions Committee. The money will be used for a series of anthropological, historical, cultural, and performance events incorporating the tipi, she said.

Contributors to the 27-foot high tipi included the carpentry, purchasing, and grounds departments in facilities services; the chaplains’ office; NASU, campus activities, minority student life, the I.D.E.A. Space, and the McHugh family.

The Native American Student Union was established as the Native American Student Association in 1960 and celebrates Native American peoples and cultures.