Native Village Youth and Education News
October, 2009


Haskell marks its 125th year
Speaker to students: "You are the new breed of warriors"
Story and photo by Mike Yoder

Condensed by Native Village

Haskell Indian Nations University celebrated and honored its 125 year anniversary. Students, faculty and alumni gathered on campus to honor the past and look ahead to the future.

In 1884, the Indian Industrial Training School opened its doors to 22 students as a boarding school meant to assimilate American Indians into mainstream culture.

Today, IITS is known as Haskell Indian Nations University. Haskell works to celebrate those same cultures.

A recent healing ceremony to mark Haskell's 125th year of operation was filled with songs, dances and drums.  While Haskell students, alumni and staff looked on, several shared their views and experiences about Haskell's past and future.

Lynda Prince talked about growing up in a boarding school and how it made her ashamed of her culture.She later learned to celebrate her heritage and now proudly wears her American Indian regalia — including a beaded dress she wore to the ceremony that weighs more than 35 pounds.

“I’m proud to be who the creator created me to be,” she said. “We should all be.”

She recognized the students at the ceremony in particular, honoring them for choosing to further their education. “You are the new breed of warriors on the horizon,” Prince said.

Linda Sue Warner, Haskell president, said she could barely imagine what it must have been like 125 years ago on the campus.  “It’s really a commemoration and not a celebration,” Warner said of the ceremony. “It’s a testament to the resiliency of the Indian people.”

Warner said Haskell focuses on culture, though it may be difficult at times with all the different tribes that attend the school — most of which have different customs and traditions. Still, she said, the school has come a long way from its roots.

“Instead of a place where you take the culture away, we’re really looking at a place to put the culture back in,” Warner said.

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