As part of its effort to improve the quality of education for Native American students on campus, the University of Wyoming will host a grand opening of its new Native American Center this Friday, September 29.
Wyoming’s first Native American woman legislator, State Representative Affie Ellis, will serve as master of ceremonies and the student group, Keepers of the Fire, will offer a Native American hoop dance.
James Trosper is the director of the Native American Education and Research Center. He said the new center will not only make Native American students feel more welcome on campus, but it will also benefit the UW student body as a whole.
“It benefits all the students when they’re able to have those interactions with different cultures,” said Trosper. “Here in the state of Wyoming, we’re not as diverse as the rest of the world. But we want our students to go out into the world and be prepared to work in a multi-cultural world.”
The new space includes a computer lab, classroom, kitchen and space for ceremonies. The hope is the center will help increase Native student enrollment at UW, which is at an all-time low. The public can get a tour of the new center on Friday starting at 1 p.m. At 4 p.m., the new building will receive a prayer and cedaring ceremony from tribal elders from the Wind River Reservation. Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi and Congresswoman Liz Cheney are also scheduled to speak.
At the event, Trosper said the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes will each sign a new Memorandum of Understanding with the university since it's been several years since they signed the last one.
“That one is quite outdated and we really needed to have a new one,” he said. “And so we’ve made several trips up to the reservation and President Nichols has had several meetings with the business councils on what ways the university can help better provide education to tribal members.”
Trosper said the event is free, dinner will be served and the public is encouraged to come.