Last week, the Native American Education & Cultural Center (NAECC) opened its doors to kick off Native American Heritage Month with an open house. It hosted its first ever open house at its new location on November 2nd. The center has moved from its slightly secluding location on the south side of campus, to a more central location at the corner of Fifth and University Streets.
The NAECC was created to develop new generations of educated Native students who can make positive contributions to their native and non-native communities. The NAECC joined campus in 2007, in attempt to provide a voice to the native student population. Felica Ahasteen-Bryant has been the director of the center since June 2009, and has since worked tirelessly to expand the vision of the center. Ahasteen-Bryant has many contacts within the native community in Indiana, and uses them to provide programming, mentorship, and outreach for the NAECC.
The center is mainly responsible for two clubs: AISES and NASA. The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) was created to provide representation of American Indian and Alaska Natives in science and engineering education and careers. AISES provides educational programs, financials and academic support, professional development, as well as builds partnerships with schools, tribes, corporations, and more. Native American Student Association (NASA) is the Native student voice on campus. NASA provides a forum for students to discuss issues that concern Native people and promotes awareness of Native cultures and issues. Both clubs hold their meetings and activities at the center.
The NAECC provides a “home base” for many students. “Students can be found napping on the couches in the middle of the day, or hanging out after classes,” says Director Felica Ahasteen-Bryant. The facility has a conference room for club meetings or educational programming, a computer lab with a printer and wireless access, student lounge with a TV and Blu-Ray/DVD player, a full kitchen, library, and outdoor patio. The NAECC also serves as a function museum, as the walls are adorned with authentic Native American art from around the country.
The NAECC is open to all students. Anyone is welcome to stop by, schedule a tour, or attend any of their events. The center hosts “Souper Wednesdays,” a traditional meal provided by the center, on the first Wednesday of every month. The center also periodically hosts craft-circles and seminars with guest speakers. Be sure to check out their website (http://www.purdue.edu/naecc/index.html) for more details on upcoming events!