Montana State University students working to promote a new American Indian Student Center will host an event calling attention to the need for the building from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Friday, April 14.
“A Prayer for Tomorrow’s Presence” will open with an honor song and ceremony at the site of the proposed center across from Roberts Hall. Because of the likelihood of bad weather, the event will then move into SUB Ballroom A for a free lunch, ceremonies and presentations.
The event will draw attention to the need for the center, according to Dawson Demontiney, one of the organizers of the Native American Development Group, an MSU student organization that is raising funds for the center.
“(The center) is important to our Native American students because this gives us a place to practice our Native American heritage, a place to call our own,” Demontiney said. A civil engineering student who is a Chippewa Cree from the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, Demontiney said that Indian students seek a strong community, like those communities they came from. However, the current center, in the basement of Wilson Hall, is frequently cramped and overcrowded, resulting in no place for the students to go. Currently, there are 650 Native American students enrolled at MSU, according to enrollment data.
Demontiney said Friday’s event will honor those donors who wish to be recognized, provide information about the importance of the planned American Indian Student Center and include presentations, a pipe ceremony and a Native singer. MSU President Waded Cruzado and members of the MSU Council of Elders will attend. The event is being held in conjunction with the MSU Powwow, which begins at 6 p.m. April 14 and runs through April 15.
Officials from the MSU Alumni Foundation said that MSU has been working for nearly a decade to raise funds for the center, and they welcome the student-led effort.
“The fact that students are leading this effort to raise awareness of the need for this building emphasizes the importance of the project,” said Mary Jane McGarity, vice president for development at the MSUAF. McGarity said a little more than $1 million has been raised for the $10 million project.
Dawson Demontiney, firstname.lastname@example.org