search button
newscenter logo
Saturday, December 2, 2023

Follow SDSU Follow SDSU on Twitter Follow SDSU on Facebook SDSU RSS Feed

News Story Image

City of San Diego Honors SDSU on Indigenous Peoples Day

SDSU’s commitment to Native American students and communities recognized by the City of San Diego.
By Aaron Burgin

San Diego State University is being honored on Indigenous Peoples Day by the City of San Diego for its continued commitment to the region’s Native American communities and population. 


In a proclamation issued by San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera, the city praises the university — specifically the Native Resource Center, American Indian Studies Department and the Office of the Tribal Liaison — for their efforts on behalf of Native American students and the local tribal nations. Elo-Rivera represents San Diego’s Council District 9, which includes SDSU. 


“We have a responsibility to recognize, honor, and celebrate all the Indigenous people who have nurtured this land for thousands of years,” said Elo-Rivera. “We must also acknowledge that our City was built—and currently occupies—the land the Kumeyaay Ipai-Tipai, Luiseño - Payómkawichum, Cahuilla have stewarded. That’s why we must ensure the community and cultural contributions of Tribal Nations are protected and preserved, as well as provide opportunities and resources to Native American and Indigenous-identified students so they can achieve personal and academic success. The work of San Diego State University’s American Indian Studies Department, the Native Resource Center, and the Office of the Tribal Liaison are critical in accomplishing these goals.”


University officials thanked the city for recognizing the efforts, which range from supporting the university’s Native students through the Native Resource Center to formally acknowledging the university is built on Kumeyaay land, spearheading multiple research initiatives with local tribes on issues impacting Native communities and investing in tribal youth sports programs through a partnership with Nike. 


“We are thrilled to be included in the City of San Diego’s proclamation for Indigenous Peoples Day. As an institution, we are proud to recognize Indigenous People's Day on our campus,” said Jessica Nare, assistant vice president for Community & Belonging in the Division of Student Affairs & Campus Diversity. 


Among the most recent examples of the university’s support of Native communities is the creation of the Native Resource Center in 2020. One of 10 campus cultural centers, the NRC provides Native American students a safe space on campus where they can connect with other students and foster community. 


“It is a tremendous honor to be included in the city proclamation to recognize Indigenous People,” said Christopher Medellin, who has served as the center’s director since its inception. “As a center, we strive to build a space on campus where Native American people are seen and celebrated. To have that work noticed by the city really shows those that wish to come to SDSU that Native People are important and that they have a place that will accept them for who they are. 


“We share a common philosophy with the American Indian Studies department that aims to bring Indigenous ideologies and pedagogies into the university setting and, collectively, we build a strong community,” Medellin said. 


Another example of the community-building efforts SDSU has embarked on includes its annual partnership with Nike N7 — the shoe brand’s collection that honors and embodies the values, stories and diversity of Indigenous traditions and crafts. During a men’s basketball game in November local tribal organizations are showcased and the team dons turquoise jerseys in honor of Native American Heritage Month.


The “N7 Game,” as it is called, has raised thousands of dollars for Inter Tribal Sports, a nonprofit organization based on the San Diego campus that offers organized athletics, wellness and leadership programs for tribal youth.


“SDSU partnering with Nike N7 is a great way to invest back into the Native American community, as the N7 Fund directly supports youth sports programs in Southern California,” Medellin has said in the past. “One of the longstanding goals of the Nike N7 Native Night is to show that Native American people are still here and are important to the whole SDSU community.”


SDSU also works closely with Kumeyaay Community College to create Kumeyaay language classes and in teaching extension classes to Native American high school students that promote college enrollment and help them prepare for college.


This year, Nare said, “SDSU is offering a new grant to Native students to help fund their education. Students who participate in the Elymash Yuuchaap program at SDSU are eligible to apply for, and receive, grants to fund their tuition and fees. This academic year, 23 incoming and current students received funding. Students interested in applying for the EY scholars grant, which are awarded annually, can request more information from the Native Resource Center.


“We remain steadfast in our commitment to support Native student success at SDSU,” Nare said.