BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) – Montana State University celebrated the grand opening of its American Indian Hall this weekend, saying it will serve as a bridge between Native American culture and all other cultures on campus.
The event began on Saturday with a procession from the current American Indian Center – just over 1,000 square feet (93 square meters) in the basement of Wilson Hall – to the new $ 20 million building and 31 000 square feet (2,880 square meters).
The procession was led by a Native American honor guard followed by standard bearers with the state flag and flags of the tribal nations of Montana, as well as tribal dancers.
The building will house the university’s Department of Native American Studies and a workspace for the Senior Diversity and Inclusion Officer. Classes will start there in January.
It also has a kitchen, a percussion room and rooms for tutoring, counseling, advice and cultural ceremonies. Native American art is on display, and furniture is made from trees removed from the site where the building currently stands.
The building is surrounded by gardens with native plants that were planted by Native American students and staff at MSU and is heated and cooled by 24 geothermal wells.
Bryan Newland, U.S. Assistant Home Secretary for Indian Affairs, said access to culturally relevant resources and spaces helps Indigenous students succeed, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.
“This is the commitment Montana State University has made and shown to native studies and native students,” he said. “You really put your money where your mouth is, and I commend him.”
Significant fundraising for the project began in 2018 with a commitment of $ 12 million from the Kendeda Fund. Associate students at Montana State University pledged $ 2 million, while Jim and Chris Scott of Billings and the Terry and Patt Payne family of Missoula each pledged $ 1 million.
The state of Montana has 811 Native American and Alaska Native students.