Our university has many singular strengths but perhaps most unique are the influences that arose from our location on a portion of Puvungna, an ancient site of learning that represents a sacred space to our Native American neighbors and to others in the community.
As we enter the season of thanksgiving, it is a particularly appropriate time to remember the Tongva people and all First Americans who, in the words of former President Barack Obama, “have helped shape the future of the United States through every turn of our history.”
Cal State Long Beach presents a variety of programs and activities during Native American Heritage History Month. But I believe that our campus has a special responsibility, all throughout the year, to acknowledge and honor Indigenous cultures and to connect Native students to their heritage while we simultaneously work toward increasing higher-education opportunities for Native Americans in our community.
I am proud to note that our campus is home to several excellent Native American student and alumni organizations that are committed to building supportive communities and to helping Native students and alumni achieve success on and beyond The Beach. These include American Indian Alumni Association; the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES); and the American Indian Student Council (AISC), which is open to any currently enrolled student interested in American Indian Studies.
The American Indian Student Council also hosts the Annual American Indian Leaders of Today and Tomorrow (AILOTT) Conference and the popular POW WOW event, which will celebrate its landmark 50th anniversary in March 2020.
Special thanks to the students, faculty, and staff of the American Indian Studies Department for their many contributions to our campus and community and for their tireless dedication to advancing understanding and appreciation of Indigenous histories, traditions, cultures, and values.
I look forward to future enriching collaborations with our Native community and allies.
Jane Close Conoley, Ph.D.