While Georgetown lacked a cultural outlet for Native American students before this semester, the newly formed Native American Student Council will hold its first major event — a powwow — on Copley Lawn April 28.
“It helps to have a club for Native American students finally,” NASC Student of Color Alliance Representative Andrew Vondall (COL ’13), a member of the Crow tribe, said. “We know Native American students come and go at Georgetown all the time, but there [was] no Native American student club.”
NASC hopes that the powwow, which will celebrate Native American culture through authentic music, student dance performances representing a variety of tribes and Native American food, will become the organization’s signature yearly event.
NASC was founded to address equality for Native American students and serve as an outlet for the celebration of Native American cultural heritage. Group leaders also hope to attract more Native American students to apply to Georgetown in the future. In 2012, 1.5 percent of students — approximately 50 students out of 3,316 — admitted to the Class of 2016 were Native American. Statistics are not available for the 2013 admissions cycle.
According to NASC Treasurer Whitney Dockrey (NHS ’15), a member of the Cherokee tribe, NASC is trying to work with the Office of Admissions to reach out to prospective Native American students.NASC also hopes to work with current students to help them find scholarships that specifically support Native Americans.
“We are trying to work with admissions, so when a Native student applies, we can call them and encourage them to come to Georgetown,” Dockrey said.
Vondall cited the importance of having such a group in place when greater numbers of Native American students come to campus.
“It’s mainly … a place for Native American students can go and share their experiences,” Vondall said. “Eventually it will come to a point where lots of Native students come here.”
But Dockrey stressed that the club is geared to serve as an outlet for those interested in Native American culture, as well as those who are part of it.
“There is a place for everyone and anything they are interested in,” Dockrey said.
Dockrey and NASC Chair Hilary Andrews (NHS ’14), a member of the Aquinnah tribe, developed plans for the organization last semester and officially founded the group when they returned to campus in January.
Whereas most cultural groups on campus are funded by the Student Activities Commission, NASC is funded by the Center for Social Justice, though it has also received some funding from the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access and the Students of Color Association.
According to Andrews, NASC’s mission to dispel misinformed student perceptions about Native American culture and history makes its affiliation with CSP a good fit.
“A lot of history gets skewed,” Andrews said. “Our approach is to eradicate some of the stereotypes and misconceptions that are associated with the Native American population.”
NASC has already established relationships with other groups in the D.C. area, including Native American student groups at The George Washington University and University of Maryland.
NASC is planning more events and activities around the city in the future, including a meeting with the Senate Committee on Native Affairs.