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“Home away from home:” Native American Education, Research, and Cultural Center wins national recognition

Melodie Edwards
Wyoming Public Radio
Native American Education, Research, and Culture Center at the University of Wyoming

The Native American Education, Research, and Cultural Center (NAERCC) at the University of Wyoming won the National Indigenous Student Support Program Award in 2023. This award is from the Indigenous People’s Knowledge Community (IPKC).

They award professionals that create or enhance a program that affects Indigenous people’s personal development and academic success.

Reinette Redbird, the director of the NAERCC, said she thinks the center won because it’s a “home away from home” for UW’s Indigenous students.

“As Native people, we’re really family oriented,” she said. “We keep them into consideration with everything, and so if [students’] parents aren’t as accessible, they’ll come to us right away.”

As a home away from home, the center provides numerous services to its students, such as: study nights, food during finals, academic support and tutoring, seminars and lectures, and student organizations, like the American Indian Science Engineering Society (AISES).

UW student Darwin St. Clair III traveled with the UW AISES chapter to Canada.

“I got to meet other Indigenous people that do the math, the medical, the science stuff I want to do,” he said. “It was like modern knowledge with old knowledge. There was actual science and knowledge behind what [Indigenous] people did, and that can be even used now with modern knowledge.”

Many students are from Wind River tribes. In the coming years, Redbird hopes that they can recruit more students from other reservations and other tribes.

“When we go into these Native communities to recruit, we’re really focusing on their community, and [we want them to know] we really do genuinely want them here. We can provide services for them, a physical space, and they have Native staff and faculty to work with as soon as they get to campus,” she said.

For anyone who is interested in learning more, Redbird encourages people to contact the center directly or visit the center in person.

Nicole Dillon was born in Montana, raised in Sheridan, Wy, and currently resides in Laramie to attend the University of Wyoming. She is pursuing a concurrent degree in Communication and Journalism. After graduating this spring, Nicole hopes to teach English abroad before attending graduate school. She has written feature stories for the Sheridan Press in the past, and is eager to broaden her journalism and communication skills at WPM. In her spare time, she loves reading or doing yoga.
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