Colorado College’s Native American Student Union (NASU) hosted their first all-college fair on Nov. 8 The fair kicking off Native American Heritage Month and supporting local vendors while raising awareness about commonly neglected social issues.
NASU began brainstorming how to celebrate the month-long event, and quickly the conversation escalated from merely selling fry bread to, “Well, why don’t we make this massive?” said co-chair Camey Hess.
“In the past, we’ve tried to do events like S’Mores in the Tipi, Indian Corner, things like that, but none have drawn enough attention,” Hess said. “We wanted to make the event really big this year.”
The event took place on the Worner quad with 13 vendors, all of whose profits went to their own causes and supports. Each of these vendors show at the Garden of the Gods Pow-Wow in the early fall every year.
“We had Robert Running Bear, who is a local of Colorado Springs, who sold dream catchers; Teresa Lerma, who sold star quilts, a Native American staple mainly to the West and Southwest, with her family; other people were selling Native American pictures, jewelry, and books,” said Hess.
NASU themselves sold fry bread, a food typical to many Native American tribes. Each two-dollar sale profit went directly to one of the organization’s personal fundraising cause: a family on a reservation.
“Right now, we’re currently raising funds for a family on the Pine Ridge reservation to send them blankets and propane because they don’t have any right now, and it’s extremely cold,” said Hess.
Along with this, another key point of the fair that raked in awareness was the bringing of Dr. Chuck Ross, a nationally accredited and renowned author of a variety of Native American books, to campus.
“From the feedback that we got from the vendors, the students, and the club in general, we definitely want to do it again but make it bigger,” said Hess.
The club is attempting to plan another fair in the spring, hoping to bring in many members of the Colorado Springs community. Expanding this event would require more funds in order to support greater attendance; however, the overall gain beyond that which is monetary would be tremendous.
“When you turn a blind eye to the fact that the Trail of Tears is over and Wounded Knee is over, you forget that these people still need help because a lot of American Indians around the country are still living below the poverty line,” said Hess.
NASU looks forward to expanding their network within and outside of the community in order to
Candelaria Alcat, Staff Writer