New Cultural Centers Rising Over Summer

Aug 15th, 2001 | By | Category: 13-1: Honoring Our Students & Alumni, Tribal College News

Four witnesses recorded the event: (left to right) Ramon Murillo (art program), Perry Adams (NWIC Foundation Board of Directors member), Bill James (Lummi language instructor), Willie Jones (Lummi tribal chair). Photo by Candy Solomon

Northwest Indian College (NWIC) hosted a “log-raising” ceremony on the platform floor of its new cultural learning center last May. Two weeks later, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College (LCO) broke ground on its center in Wisconsin. These represented the 22nd and 23rd centers constructed during the past two years under the American Indian Higher Education Consortium’s (AIHEC) Cultural Learning Center initiative. The initiative represents a partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; the American Indian College Fund; and the National Association of Home Builders Log Homes’ Council, whose members have donated log material packages to 29 tribal colleges.

About 300 people attended the NWIC event on a sunny spring day in Bellingham, WA, and many helped lift logs and hammer them into place. Levi Jefferson, chairman of the NWIC Board of Trustees, called four witnesses to record the event and speak on its significance. Each witness was wrapped in a red blanket. Dr. Tommy Lewis, president of NWIC, blessed the site in a traditional Navajo ceremony and spoke at length on the history of the project and its meaning to the college community.

Ramon Murillo, director of the cultural arts program, said the college faculty could finally gather all in one area. The building will house classes on traditional arts such as carving and basket weaving. One of the students’ first projects will be to carve the log entrance posts to the center. The NWIC Building Trades students and instructor Jay Conway were acknowledged for all of their hard work and for the students’ commitment to opening the building by fall.

When LCO’s center is completed, it will be one of the largest in the consortium at over 9,000 square feet. Its organic architectural design features a combination of natural materials such as logs and timbers, stone, and glass. “The building will store photographs and historical materials of the tribe’s inheritance and function as a living center, providing space for programs, meetings, and other activities to help keep the culture of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa alive and well,” said LCO President Schuyler Houser.

Yet to come in the next few months are projects at Haskell Indian Nations University, Oglala Lakota College, and Crownpoint Institute of Technology.

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