The Native American Student Association (NASA) is an organization offered at Pittsburg State University dedicated to cultural diversity and education on campus.
“We are a bunch of students who identify as Native American or have Native American heritage, and our goal is to promote cultural diversity on campus as well as educate people,” said junior in creative writing and president of NASA, Blake Johnson.
The organization currently has twelve members and is open to anyone.
“You don’t have to be enrolled, you don’t even have to know anything about Native Americans, we just want people who are open minded and caring,” Johnson said.
The organization was restarted in 2019 and is working on a variety of events for the month of November, which is Native American Heritage Month.
“Native American Heritage Month is a month that’s meant to focus on highlighting what it means to be Native American, the heritage of Native American people, the cultural standards and expectations,” Johnson said.
The group has a variety of goals for the month.
“So this month is really about re-educating people. I think the fact that it falls in November is really important too because of all of the not accurate things that were taught in school specifically about Thanksgiving that involved Native American people, and that’s really where forced assimilation started,” Johnson said. “And so I think this month is just about teaching about all the cultural things that Native American people have lost due to the forced assimilation forced upon us by the U.S. government.”
The group has a variety of events occurring throughout the month of November as well.
“So this month we have several events,” Johnson said. “At the beginning we kicked it off with a Cherokee storyteller. He came and shared traditional Cherokee stories which are posted on our Facebook. We recorded that so people can go watch that even if they weren’t able to attend. We also added a two-spirit people event focusing on gender nonconformity and the long history it has with Native American people and the importance it held among Native American tribes. Then we’re having this event on boarding schools. And then we are going to also have an event on re-learning Thanksgiving on Nov. 30. So really, we just take the month, and we dive full in on education.”
Through the events, the organization is hoping that they can continue educating those around them.
“I feel like they should be more involved, more educated, and an organization like this and, because they a lot of people walking around, don’t realize we’re on at least three or four different Native American lands right now,” said Vice President of NASA and junior in history, Kylee Trouba. “They just think it’s just everyday life. And they don’t really realize what people had to give up for them to be able to live on the land that they are living on right now.”
For anyone interested in events hosted by NASA or joining the organization more information can be found on Gorilla Engage or social media.