The student organization Lawrence University Native Americans (LUNA) has been brought back to campus again this year after an extended hiatus.
LUNA is a student organization that aims at educating the Lawrence community about various cultures of different tribal nations from across the United States. There are seven board members in the club, and there are six regular members
Senior Nicole Chase is the president of LUNA. When she found that there were more Native American freshmen coming to Lawrence this year, she decided to restart LUNA to provide a supportive place for them. She talked to the Native American students on campus and collaborated with them to restart the organization.
Chase believes that LUNA should first function as a supportive group for Native Americans at Lawrence. She said lots of Native American students at Lawrence are from Arizona and New Mexico. She believes that for these Native American students, “being away from reservations all the way to Lawrence is a totally different scene change.” She feels the need to give Native Americans at Lawrence a place where they can find somebody to relate to.
Chase said LUNA should also provide education about Native American cultures at Lawrence. She wants LUNA to be a group open to the whole campus so that other students who aren’t Native Americans will come. Chase hopes LUNA can help break the stereotypes about Native Americans and bring more information about different cultures and different tribes.
LUNA has started partnering with the Diversity Center to get the word out about different events related to Native American heritage. For example, the Diversity Center advertised the dinner after Bill Miller’s performance on Tuesday, Nov. 12. As for future plans, Chase said that they may bring discussion panels to campus to provide information and invite questions about Native American culture.
Chase has many plans to work with other student organizations to better spread the word about their organization. Working with the Culture Food Club to make Native American dishes may be one event in the future. Suggesting books to one of Lawrence’s book clubs and movie screenings with the film club are also on her to-do list.
“I am trying to get in touch with all the presidents of different groups and see what they want to do,” Chase said.
Chase believes that the most challenging things for LUNA are to find the direction for the group and to keep the club going.
“I don’t want [LUNA] to die next year [when I graduate] […] We want to make the group think and thrive [on its own,]” she said.
Chase hopes that the “Lawrence community and student body can see how amazing students in general are in this club.” Chase said, “Even though there are not many Native Americans [at Lawrence], we are doing things not only for each other but also for someone else.”
She shared that because of LUNA, she learned a lot more about Native American culture from others than she has learned from her family and, at the same time, people who are not Native Americans were learning a lot, too.
Chase believes that “It’s not about race, not about [the fact that] we are Native Americans, it’s that we are all different people from different backgrounds, and we should help each other understand, and remove the stereotypes through understanding where each of us comes from.”