Creighton Establishes Native American Center
Creighton University has a long history of serving Native American communities. Creighton community members, specifically, Tami Buffalohead-McGill, Student Support Services, Ricardo Ariza, Multi-Cultural Affairs and Fr. Ray Bucko, S.J., and Rudi Mitchell, Ph.D., in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, have been deeply involved with accompanying and advocating for Native American students for many years.
This past summer the Jesuit Community agreed to help fund a program designed to enhance the Creighton experience for Native American students. Business Instructor Taylor Keen was asked to coordinate and advance the efforts involving recruitment, retention, outreach, development and academic planning as it relates to the Native population in relationship with the whole University with the long term goal of becoming the premier Jesuit institution in partnership with Native Americans.
Many campus community members have been deeply involved with advocating for Native American students and outreach programs for years. The Native American Center’s charge is to coordinate and intensify existing and future efforts in a manner that leverages all the resources of the Creighton community. With this in mind much has been accomplished during the past six months.
- High school guidance counselors working with Native American students from across the country were assembled on our campus to learn more about access to Creighton and educational opportunities we offer students they serve.
- A database of currently enrolled Native American students has been assembled to get a clearer understanding of the characteristics of those students who self-identify themselves as Native.
- A university wide retention group has been meeting monthly to discuss individual cases and how to support students who are struggling socially, academically or spiritually.
- A multi-disciplinary conference was held in the Fall of 2009, “Nations within Nations”, which considered the cultural and legal status of indigenous groups within modern Nation States. Multidisciplinary in approach, the conference examined the historical and contemporary political and legal status of these groups as they exist within federal or unitary structures of a larger state. Special attention was given to how the Academy has been of service to indigenous Nations and explored ways in which we can work in solidarity with these groups.
- A new program, Native American Advocates, (NAA) has been established to ensure that each individual Native student at Creighton receives the full benefit of institutional resources for the purpose of maximizing their student experience, with an overall target of improving college completion rates and student success. Some advisors may have noticed the NAA assigned to a student in identified Banner.
The next initiative involves the opportunity for community members to embrace our Ignatian values through supporting Creighton Native students in a mentoring capacity. While the Native American Advocate serves as a professional advocate due to their capacity at the university, we are looking for individuals who want to engage in a more social, spiritual, and culturally supportive role.
The Native American Mentor will meet with the student on a regular basis to enhance their student experience through strong positive relationships. Collaboration with the Native American Advocates program will be key.
This program has not yet been formalized and will develop over time. If you are interested in exploring the opportunity to engage and mentor one of our Native American students, please contact Taylor Keen at firstname.lastname@example.org.