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Five high school students gather around an admissions table to hear a speaker.

OSU hosts First Nations Day, highlighting importance of Native American students

Friday, April 5, 2024

Media Contact: Page Mindedahl | Communications Specialist | 405-744-9782 | page.mindedahl@okstate,.edu

Oklahoma State University hosted the inaugural First Nations Day on Thursday, an event for high school students to learn how OSU is a national leader in developing Native American college graduates.

OSU’s Undergraduate Admissions partnered with the Center for Sovereign Nations to organize the event which was held in the ConocoPhillips Alumni Center as part of American Indian Awareness Week.

Caleb Garcia, 2023 Mr. American Indian OSU, performed the "Ponca Flag Song" to start the event. 

OSU President Kayse Shrum followed with opening remarks and commented on the importance Native Americans and their tribes have at OSU.

“As a land-grant university, we believe partnerships make us stronger, and we are proud of our work with tribes in Oklahoma in a number of key areas,” Dr. Shrum said. “Our partnership with the Cherokee Nation created the first tribal-affiliated medical school in the country. The school has gained national attention and counts members of more than 11 tribes as students, who represent 31 Oklahoma counties.”

The event included lunch, an admissions presentation, a student panel Q&A, and guided campus tours. Twenty-five nations and tribes were represented at the event with students hailing from six different states. 

“We take every opportunity to champion students at Oklahoma State University, and this inaugural event celebrates Native American culture and student success at OSU,” said Karen Chen, vice president of enrollment management. “Visiting campus and engaging with current students and campus partners is an important part of the college search process. Today, students from across the state and beyond experienced firsthand what it’s like to be an OSU student. 

“We offer endless opportunities, whether in the classroom, as part of student organizations or through the Center for Sovereign Nations, for all students to find their place and thrive as part of the Cowboy family.”

Other events for American Indian Awareness Week were hosted on campus such as an alumni reception for OSU Department of Psychology and American Indians Into Psychology, and a science and engineering fair put on by American Indians in Science and Engineering. The week will finish with the Miss American Indian OSU Pageant and honoring ceremony for graduates. OSU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee also celebrated Nike N7 Day on Thursday. 

“It's really important to showcase tribal sovereignty and tribal nations on campus. Especially because there is such a small amount of Native American students that go to college,” said Kait Pinkerton, OSU Native American Student Association president. “It's really great to highlight our community and highlight that we are here, we’re thriving and we're doing a lot of really cool things that people should notice.”

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