Cal Poly unveiled the new Native American and Indigenous Cultural Center in yakʔitʸutʸu on Thursday, aiming to provide a safe and inclusive space for indigenous students on campus to study, relax and socialize.

Electrical engineering senior Wyatt Kohler, president of the American Indian Student Association, said that when he came to Cal Poly, he wasn’t aware of an indigenous presence on campus.

“As an indigenous person, it means a lot to me to know that there’s a space that I can connect with other indigenous people,” Kohler said. 

The center also promotes educating the Cal Poly community about indigenous people in San Luis Obispo and beyond. 

“[The center] is acknowledging, ‘we have a lot to learn from you still, too,’” Kohler said. 

Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Diversity and Inclusion Jamie Patton said in an email to Mustang News that the center expands efforts to support indigenous students at Cal Poly.

“Launching the Native American and Indigenous Cultural Center is another step in our efforts to help Native and Indigenous students feel at home at Cal Poly,” Patton said. 

Outside the center, students and staff can learn more about the indigenous community, specifically at Cal Poly and in San Luis Obispo, through an educational exhibit. 

The mural that covers a wall of the Native American and Indigenous Cultural Center says “rooted in Native Knowledge” accompanied by a red-tail hawk, an embodiment of protection, well-being and the power to envision for indigenous people. 

During Native American Heritage Month this November, the center will be hosting events and activities in celebration, including baking, socials, a movie screening and a how-to beadwork workshop.

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