May 7, 2012
Colorado Springs is home to a large, vibrant Native American community.
Recognizing that there wasn’t a place for the Native American student population on campus alone, the Native American Student Organization (NASO) was recently created to bring together both Native Americans and non-natives.
On April 18, NASO held a rededication ceremony for the Tree of Peace by Centennial Hall. Planted in 1988, the tree needs to be rededicated every four years.
Marguerite Cantu, a senior instructor in the communication department, said that the Tree of Peace is an Iroquois tradition. It originated with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, known as the League of Five Nations.
The Haudenosaunee Confederacy is made up of the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oenida, Onondaga and Seneca tribes. According to haudenosauneeconfederacy.ca, it is often described as the oldest democracy and is believed to have been a model for the Constitution.
The Confederacy was intended as a way to unite the nations. “Warring tribes made peace by digging a hole, burying the weapons and planting a tree above it,” said Cantu.
Eugene Red Hawk, a Mohawk elder in Colorado Springs, has planted several peace trees in the city. Both he and Sebrena Forrest, also a Mohawk, attended the tree rededication ceremony.
“People tie ribbons in the four colors (red, white, black, yellow) as they make prayers/pledges for peace,” said Cantu. She added that anyone can use the tree to work out conflicts or settle disputes in a peaceful way.
The tree rededication ceremony was not the only event NASO had this semester. On May 3, NASO held a Regression Night for students to have fun and meet one another. Regression Night included a screening of the movie, “Over the Hedge.”
Michele Companion, associate professor of sociology, said NASO chose “Over the Hedge” because it was funny and allowed students to relax before finals. “We’re very open to people who want to participate who are interested in Native American culture,” said Companion.
She added that NASO tries to provide a place for students to come together to discuss the larger issues. “We’re trying to create a supportive environment to help students meet each other [and] learn about each other’s cultures,” said Companion.
Since NASO is a new, smaller club, she indicated that it’s looking forward to getting bigger, more involved and hosting more campus activities.
The club is also working on building a Facebook community so that students will be able to keep updated.