Students keep Unity Council strong

The Native American Unity Council, or NAUC, is a group on campus trying to dispel stereotypes made about Native American people. Founded in 2002, the NAUC has tried showcasing the University contemporary Native American ideas and customs. Kristen Cooperkline, NAUC’s treasurer, said the group is not only for natives but non-natives as well. ‘It is to create a space where natives and non-natives can engage in dialogues about contemporary Native American lives,’ Cooperkline said. The NAUC holds a fall educational forum every fall semester, for which they just received OAC’s Cross Cultural Program of the Year award. This year the forum was three days long with the first two days targeting graduate students and faculty. Cooperkline said the last day targeted undergraduates. ‘Friday the 14th was an afternoon and evening shindig in the ballroom,’ Cooperkline said. Audrey Swartz, NAUC’s president-elect, said one of her favorite parts of the group is the fall event, but she wants to make the fall event more interactive with basket weaving and other things. ‘It is fun seeing it done, but it is also fun doing things,’ Swartz said. Other than their fall event, the NAUC hosted several different events in the spring, including a concert in the Pub with JSD, a Native American rapper. ‘We had events in the spring. We’ve never done that before,’ NAUC’s President Tom Burnett said. In fact, Burnett said at the end of the 2006-2007 school year the group was nearly dead. But Burnett said the group was able to grow again because of some key students. ‘We didn’t think we had the membership to keep going. We had very little undergraduate involvement and our grad students were moving on. Thank goodness for Corey, India and Kristen,’ he said. Corey Reasonover, NAUC’s vice president elect, said they advertised like crazy. He also said the members really helped bring in people by being who they were. ‘Some of us are just nice caring people.’ People came because they saw that,’ Reasonover said. One problem the group is still having is visibility. ‘We are not as visible as the Latino Student Union or the Black Student Union,’ Swartz said. She also wants to see the group become more visually active with welcome week events and other things. ‘I want to sort of get our names out there,’ she said. The University, as of fall 2008, has 118 Native Americans enrolled; however, Cooperkline said this is relative. She said when people go to check what they are ethnically they can only choose one and people who are of several descents usually will not check Native American. Other than holding events, the NAUC members have a potluck every year to hang out and celebrate the end of the year. Burnett said the group also welcomes everyone to the meetings. ‘I’d love to see the group grow and become stronger,’ Swartz said. Some things you can find at NAUC meetings are typical.’ Meetings are casual and they go over important topics like events and issues they have seen. There is also joking and laughter. Reasonover said if the group as a whole was not as much fun as it was he would not have stayed. ‘If it wasn’t for how cool everyone is, I would not still be around,’ he said. ‘I really do like them all a lot.’