The United States has a grim history when it comes to our indigenous people, from the multiple massacres of native men, women and children to Indian boarding schools where native children were taken from their families and in many cases physically and sexually abused. For the most part, this history isn’t taught in our public schools; neither is indigenous culture. But that’s changing, and the Mountain West is on board.
After years of going without one, the University of Wyoming has hired a new Native American Program Advisor. President Laurie Nichols has said the goal is to try to increase the Native student enrollment so that it better reflects the Native population in the state.
Orientation is a common activity for freshmen at any university. While there are students who don’t want to go, some relish the chance to meet new people and well… orient themselves. University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols set a goal of increasing the number of Native Americans attending UW, especially since enrollment of tribal members recently reached an all-time low. Wyoming Public Radio’s Taylar Stagner participated in the Native American Research Center’s first-ever orientation. The goal is to make students comfortable from day one.
Across the country, Native American students are severely underrepresented in higher education . Only 16 percent of Native Americans have a bachelor's degree. That's compared to 42 percent of white students. But a collective effort — that spans from the Wind River Reservation to the University of Wyoming — is helping to close that achievement gap.