November is Native American Heritage month and the University of Wyoming's Native American Education, Resource, and Cultural Center recently held a virtual speaker series that attracted about 100 students, faculty, and community members.
Reinette Tendore is the Director of the Native American Education, Resource, and Cultural Center. Tendore has had to pivot from being an advocate physically to virtually, checking in on her Native students some of whom decided not to attend college due to the pandemic.
"Our numbers were affected for sure because of COVID, because I was working with so many Native students maybe right out of high school that were planning on coming to UW," Tendore said, "So, it is kind of like a 50-50 I lost some students, but I also gained some."
The events averaged 50 participants a day during the weeklong virtual speaker series. Many who participated one day came back the next. The speakers included topics like research on Missing Murdered Indigenous Women, Native entrepreneurship, and writing.
The Native American Resource Center exists to help create a place for Native students away from their own communities. The programming included Native entrepreneurs, musical performances, and artists from around the country.
Tendore said she was pleased with the turn out considering the low virtual engagement throughout the semester, "We had a very good turnout, our virtual engagement numbers were high which was super exciting for us because virtual engagement has been pretty low."
The center has been open for three years to support historically underrepresented Native students in higher education.