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Native American minor considered

Amber Travis | Friday, February 8, 2008

Members of the Notre Dame Multicultural Affairs Committee have been working on a proposal for the creation of a Native American Studies minor at the University.

Lai-Nin Wan, chairwoman of the Multicultural Affairs Committee, said past students felt that they were not learning anything about their Native American heritage. The committee created a survey, which was randomly distributed to 900 students as a way to get further feedback about the potential minor.

The survey, which had four parts, contained one section about the possible Native American Studies minor. Wan said that her committee would like to present the results of the survey to Student Senate by the middle of February.

She said that the committee was unsure about the exact elements of the minor because the plan was still in its early stages.

“We are basically going to try and structure it in the same way as a number of other minors at the University,” Wan said. “Right now we’re searching for a department to sponsor us, and once we get the results back from our survey we’ll be able to proposition [the senate] better.”

Wan said that a Native American Studies minor would be important to the University.

“The reason why we wanted this minor is because it is something that Notre Dame doesn’t have, and we feel that we do need to have it,” she said. “In a structural way it’s absolutely different from other cultural minors. It’s different in that it’s addressing a completely different population. It would not only be for the Native American students, but it would be for the Notre Dame population in general.”

Co-president of the Native American Studies Association of Notre Dame (NASAND) Anthony Holt agreed with Wan.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Holt said. “I think [there are] a lot of Native Americans who would be very interested in programs and classes that would be offered at the University.”

Being involved with NASAND has given Holt the opportunity to interact with a variety of people from different tribes and backgrounds, he said, but there are few Native American resources or classes offered at the University besides the group.