Native American Student Alliance celebrates culture, educates community


Courtesy of Native American Student Alliance

by Camille Dejoras, Staff Writer

The Native American Student Alliance is one of the many cultural student organizations at San Diego State. NASA was established in 1971 and continues to support and promote the Native American presence on campus.

One of the major goals of NASA is to educate non-Native members of the SDSU community about the history of Native American culture.

Raelynn Bichitty, English junior and NASA treasurer, said that the organization also serves as a safe space for Native American students on campus.

“We want to create that voice for unrepresented communities,” Bichitty said. “We aim to correct misunderstandings and misrepresentations about Native American people, especially in the media where the portrayal of our culture is inaccurate”

The organization also recognizes the importance of helping younger Native American students learn about the advantages of attending college after they graduate.

Next month, NASA will be hosting their annual Youth Empowerment Conference. Native high school students from the Southern California area will attend and receive the guidance and tools necessary to help prepare them for the college application process. The event is scheduled for Oct. 27 in Montezuma Hall in the Aztec Student Union.

Bichitty, who is also minoring in American Indian Studies, said that this conference is geared towards helping younger Native American students because it is hard for them to get into higher education.

“There’s a lot of things that hinder our communities back home, such as alcohol, low income jobs and harsh realities,” Bichitty said. “These students don’t have a lot of support, and that’s why it’s our job to encourage them to get a higher-level education.”

In the meeting, NASA president Marissa Mendoza said that the theme for the conference this year will be “retention”.

“We want these students who are coming to know that they can still retain their Native American culture in college,” Mendoza said.

The organization has also started preparing for Native American Heritage Month in November.

NASA’s Public Relations Chairman Lane Yazzie said that Native American Heritage Month is the groups time to shine.

“November is the time for us to raise awareness and educate people about the indigenous heritage. It’s also a time to celebrate our culture,” Yazzie said.

Throughout the month of November, NASA will hold several events such as film screenings and presentations. The group will show films created by Native American producers, artists and directors, and they will show presentations about their concerns for the SDSU mascot and other cultural subjects.

“One of the films we might show this year is ‘More Than a Word’ which is about the football team who call themselves the Redskins, and we’ll talk about what that means to our culture,” Mendoza said in the meeting.

The group also plans to rally against Columbus Day in early November.

NASA has helped bring the Native American community together at SDSU, and it has allowed its members to make connections with other multicultural organizations on campus.

“NASA has given me the opportunity to build relationships with other diverse communities and unite us,” Yazzie said. “It has also given me the strength to build my own voice and speak out about what I believe is right.”