The Native American Achievement Center (NAAC) at MSU Billings plays an integral role in the tribal experience on campus by recruiting and retaining Native American students. Our office serves as an advocate for students pursuing postsecondary educational opportunities at MSU Billings and through the extension services at City College, which also provides academic and student support. Additionally, the NAAC helps to increase cultural understanding, awareness, and appreciation across all socio-demographic boundaries.
Currently, we have 314 Native American students enrolled, which is approximately 8 percent of our population here at MSU Billings. Our goal is to increase that number. Recently we added to our staff Eva Hoops, who will serve as our Native American Success Advisor for the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Reservation, and Madison Morgan, who will help in the areas of retention and media. We are in the process of creating a smooth transitional program for incoming high school students to build relationships with their peers, faculty, staff, and tribal leaders in our community. The NAAC is also making available opportunities for students to address any financial barriers they face as we work to ensure they are connected to all the necessary resources on campus to help them succeed. So, as you might imagine, we have many great things happening here at MSU Billings.
Of course, we also pride ourselves in providing the best extra-curricular activities at the NAAC with various cultural activities throughout the academic year, such as lecture series, special events with Native scholars, educational workshops, tutoring, the Veterans’ Medicine Wheel, and the MSU Billings Powwow. These activities help retain our students, keep them culturally engaged, and make them feel a sense of acceptance and inclusion on campus.
I must give our generous donors a big thank you for their dedication and support of the NAAC and our students’ financial needs. Because of your help, we can create a cultural atmosphere representing our Native students who have come to enjoy resources like the first sweat lodge located on a university campus. The NAAC is committed to providing the best support to our Native student population at MSU Billings by empowering them in their individual, social, cultural, and academic development.