Haskell Uses Cypress Logs for Cultural Center

Nov 15th, 2001 | By | Category: 13-2: The Power of Partnerships, Tribal College News
By Mary Pierpoint

Bobby Henry, a Seminole from Tampa, FL, blessed the Haskell Cultural Center & Museum to the four directions last summer during the log raising ceremony. Photo by Mike Yoder/Journal-World Photo

A new cultural learning center at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, KS, will house the university’s collection of archives and serve as a museum. The 6,000-square foot building will also include a research center and a visitor center. The center will be graced on the outside by a memorial wall to Native American veterans and a sculpture garden.

“To see this building go up at Haskell is a dream come true. We’re making a big difference in Indian Country,” said Gail Bruce, who initiated the cultural centers nationwide for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC). Bruce, who is also one of the founders of the American Indian College Fund, said, “I had no idea what my dream was going to entail.” Bruce envisions the cultural centers as a way for tribes to hold on to their rich cultures and to teach not only future generations of Indian people but also non-Indians. “It’s a chance for tribal colleges to get their language back and preserve their culture and the identity of their people,” Bruce said.

Bruce joined a large crowd who came to see the dream begin to turn into reality. The cultural center at Haskell is 24th of 29 other such structures being built at tribal colleges.  Haskell is the only one of the buildings to be made from cypress logs from Florida.

Because of the tie to Florida, Haskell officials wanted members of the Seminole Nation to help with the dedication. The logs originated near the home of the Seminole Nation, which has been very supportive of the project. The new building also received support from national corporations such as the Carrier Corporation, Sabatini & Associates, Harris Construction Company, Oliver Electric, and many others.

Haskell Archivist Bobbi Rahder said she is anxious for a climate-controlled place to store the valuable documents and pictures she has been compiling for the past several years that represent Haskell’s past. In the past, former employees who didn’t realize their significance threw many photographs and documents away.

The building is expected to be ready for occupancy this fall. The formal dedication is tentatively scheduled during the 2002 spring graduation.

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