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FNECC provides cultural support for American Indian students


By Kevin Wang



For nearly four years, the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center has been a hub connecting American Indian students at IU and promoting diversity.

Associate professor of anthropology Brian Gilley, the center’s director, said First Nations has always tried to build contacts with American Indian students and “allies” in the community.

“Our primary focus is trying to find people to participate and support our events.” Gilley said.

With the help of the American Indian Student Association and the Native American Graduate Student Association, the center has been a gathering unit for both American Indians and others on campus.

Gilley said the involvement of student organizations has helped the center grow.

During this year’s CultureFest, First Nations joined the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, La Casa Latino Culture Center and Asian Culture Center as campus resource centers to welcome students of every color.

The center, along with other cultural groups on campus, will have a picnic from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at Bryan Park, located at 1100 S. Woodlawn Ave. It will also participate in October’s Bloomington Multicultural Expo.

The center is still planning fall events, but Gilley said one of the most important events  is American Indian Heritage Month in November.

Gilley said during the month, the center will have multiple activities going on at various locations in Bloomington, including a kickoff at City Hall.

Sonya Atalay, an assistant professor of anthropology, said having the center at IU is important.

“We need to have a place that can gather indigenous people and share culture with our community,” Atalay said. “We do what we can to give students
different activities.”

The FNECC is currently located in Ashton Center’s Weatherly Hall and features a study room, a computer lab and a small library that with a collection of publications and videos related to American Indian culture. The move was made in April 2009 from the center’s original location in Eigenmann Hall.

The center is also collaborating with the Native American Community Center of Bloomington, a non-profit organization that promotes American Indian culture in the local community.

The community center treasurer Delphine Criscenzo-Boyer said the organizations have worked together in a lot of cultural events in Bloomington, but their jurisdictions remain separate because of different sources of funding.

“We try to bridge that gap between things happening at IU and in Bloomington,” Sonya said.

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