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New Mexico State University

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NMSU celebrates American Indian Week April 4-9

New Mexico State University will celebrate American Indian Week April 4-9 this year.


The annual campus event is sponsored by the Associated Students of New Mexico State University, in conjunction with student organizations United Native American Organization (UNAO), American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and Native American Business Student Association (NABSA), and run through NMSU's American Indian Program.

"Most Native American students have to travel up to five or six hours to get home. Bringing that sense of home here to their NMSU community makes them feel more comfortable in their environment," said Michael Ray, program coordinator for the American Indian Program. "When they have that comfort of not having to go home for the weekend to experience the traditional stuff, they're able to study more and feel a little more relaxed."

"This will be my fourth American Indian Week and I've been involved with all of them, either as a participant or an officer," said junior Alisha Murphy, vice president of UNAO. "Everything you've planned and worked on and everything you've seen being worked on - it's neat to see the reactions of the audience, to get comments from random people after a performance, or the food sales. It's always different every year and it's neat to see how the students make it their own."

"The preparation and process that is involved in the coordination of American Indian Week presents a great opportunity for the students to step into leadership roles and develop their skill sets, which in turn will benefit them as students and prepare them for their career pathways," said Justin McHorse, director of the American Indian Program.

The week kicks off at 10:30 a.m. Monday, April 4, with an opening ceremony and blessing by Elder Paul Ortega of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, along with welcome remarks by Provost Wendy Wilkins, on the east side of Hadley Hall, leading into a Parade of Nations from Hadley to Corbett Center Student Union. Festivities conclude at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 9. In between there will be a host of events, all of which are free and open to the NMSU community.

On April 5, the Zuni Bear dance group will perform at 1 p.m. on the Corbett Center outdoor stage. That same day Miss Navajo Nation, Winifred Jumbo, will speak at 5 p.m. in the Corbett Center West Ballroom; that will be followed by a performance from Native American comedian Tatanka Means at 7 p.m.

On April 6, the American Indian Student Center will host an Indian taco demonstration, and that evening the film "Black Cloud" will be screened in the Corbett Senate Gallery.

"As American Indians, this is an opportunity for all of us to get together and share our culture with the local community," said Ty Begay, a junior civil engineering student and president of AISES. "We take pride in what we show; this is what we grew up with. It is special to share our culture with other people, letting them know that we're still here, that we still respect our culture."

The Soaring Eagle dance group is performing on the Corbett outdoor stage April 7, and the Outlaws will perform at the Country Western Dance at 8 p.m. at the Livestock Judging Pavilion on campus. The two events bookend a Native American flute demonstration by Albino Lujan, taking place from 5-7 p.m. in the Corbett Center's West Ballroom.

April 8 features the Native American Arts & Crafts Expo on Corbett Center's first floor, followed by the Miss Native American NMSU Pageant at 6 p.m. in Hardman Hall Room 106.

"Miss Native American NMSU is an ambassador for us, so it's really crucial for that next person to know they're representing all of us," Begay said. "It's a very important job."

The week concludes April 9, as the expo continues outside the University Museum in Kent Hall, along with Zuni fetish carving demonstrations and a performance from either the Soaring Eagle or Zuni Bear dance groups (to be determined).

"It's important for native students to have this week, because they get a chance to show a little bit of their culture," Murphy said. "This whole week is to show who we are, and we bring a little piece of our hometown or our traditions or beliefs to our school."

For more information and a complete list of events, dates and locations, call the American Indian Program at 575-646-4207.