Diné College Stacks Logs for Culture Center at Tuba City

Feb 15th, 2001 | By | Category: 12-3: How to Build a Dream, Tribal College News

Hoisting a log for the cultural center are Marsha Griffin of the Tuba City Chamber of Commerce, John Sutherland of Diné College, Project Director Harold Joseph, Deborah Baker of Sen. John McCain’s staff, James Bilagody (Diné College Board of Regents), and Loretta Nez and Ed Little of the Tuba City Steering Committee. Photo by Antonio Ruales

On November 29, Diné College conducted a “log-raising” ceremony at the Tuba City, Ariz., campus. The Diné College Board of Regents, representatives of the Navajo Nation, members of the Tuba City Steering Committee, students, faculty members, and other project sponsors gathered on site to stack logs and hammer nails.

The 2,400-square foot log hogan is the first building on Tuba City’s new campus, which is located over 100 miles west of the main college campus at Tsaile. It is the 19th Cultural Learning Center to go up at tribal colleges nationwide as part of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium  (AIHEC) initiative to create repositories for art and culture at each member institution. The center will serve as temporary classroom, office, and computer lab until construction begins on the new campus facilities in the spring. After those facilities are completed, the center will be used as a cultural center for Navajo and Hopi art and artifacts and as a visiting center for the community.

Cassandra Manuelito-Kerkvliet, president of Diné College, sent a message thanking all the supporters and quoting her grandfather, Chief Manuelito, who said, “Education is the ladder to success for my people, tell my grandchildren to climb the ladder.” Last summer, Manuelito-Kerkvliet became the first woman president in the 32-year history of the nation’s first tribal college. She worked in the Oregon University System since 1988 and was completing her doctorate when the tribal college hired her. She holds a B.S. degree in social work and a M.S. degree in counselor education from the University of Wyoming.

The cultural learning centers partnership involves the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; the National Association of Home Builders’ Council, whose members have donated log material packages to 29 colleges; and the American Indian College Fund. Air-Lock Log Homes of Las Vegas, N.M., donated this octagonal structure, the fourth of four cultural centers the company has donated to tribal colleges nationwide. Anne Edinger of the AIHEC Cultural Learning Centers staff estimates that by December 2000, they had received over $10 million in material (log home companies and other building supply companies), labor donations, grants from the Lilly Endowment and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and gifts acquired by tribal colleges.

Donors and supporters of the Diné College cultural center construction included AZ Public Service Inc., NTUA of Tuba City, Tuba City Chapter, Bureau of Indian Affairs Navajo Agency, Citizens Telephone Co, Navajo Communications Co., and SWC, Inc., and the Tuba City Steering Committee.

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