Native American students were welcomed back to campus Thursday night with an event including food, prayer and networking.
Native Student Services hosted a welcome dinner for new and returning students in the Al Neuharth Media Center conference room.
Gene Thin Elk, director of Native Student Services, was one of the event’s organizers. He said the gathering is centered around culture and family.
“(The dinner) is a major starting point,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to touch base with the students.”
Thin Elk and others offered prayers at the beginning of the event and before serving dinner.
The purpose of the event was to introduce students to faculty members from a variety of departments on campus. Students were encouraged to reach out to faculty members about any questions or concerns they had about starting the school year.
Jessica Sheridan, a sophomore business administration major, said she enjoyed the dinner because it gives her a chance to meet faculty members and catch up with students.
Canku Wakangdi, a sophomore studying American Indian studies, said he enjoyed the event for its celebration of life.
“The dinner helps us have a sense of community for returning and new students,” Wakangdi said.
After introductions, the students served their elders dinner first before getting food for themselves.
Donis Drappeau, assistant program director at the Native American Cultural Center, helped organize the dinner.
“(The event) creates a sense of family for first-years, and relief for parents,” Drappeau said.