The campus community and yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash tribe came together Thursday, Nov. 8 to celebrate the grand opening of the residence halls on campus.

Students, staff and members of the tribe gathered on the central lawn in yakʔitʸutʸu to take part in the celebration. The event was hosted by University Housing, Student Affairs and the Office of the President.

Non-residents were given tours of the building to view the features of the newest non-apartment style residence halls on campus. Posters that read “I am on Chumash lands” were screenprinted and handed out during the event. Food was catered from Native American indigenous catering company Wahpepah’s Kitchen.

Chef Crystal Wahpepah owns one of the first Native American catering businesses in California.

“It’s very honoring that I was asked to represent indigenous foods and to represent the Chumash people and their foods,” Wahpepah said.

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Jared Smith | Mustang News

Among the foods served were blueberry bison meatballs, acorn banana bread, blue corn cakes.

“I wanted to create the perfect menu for this event,” Wahpepah said. “As we eat their foods, just kind of reminisce that people are still here and tribal members are still here.”

Chef Crystal Wahpepah serves indigenous food from the Northern Chumash tribe. Allie Rohlfs | Mustang News

At the event was a “Language of the Land” exhibit for attendees to learn more about the tribe’s language and understand its importance in preserving its traditions.

“We really envision that yakʔitʸutʸu will be a place where the entire campus can gather together as a community,” Cal Poly Housing Marketing Coordinator Julia Bluff said. “That’s why it’s called yakʔitʸutʸu, because it means ‘our community.’”

The Grand Opening Ceremony featured speakers Vice President of Student Affairs Keith Humphrey and Northern Chumash Tribal Chair Mona Olivas Tucker.

The speeches emphasized the importance of maintaining the traditions of the indigenous tribe in San Luis Obispo.

“For 10,000 years, our connection to our homeland has remained unbroken,” Olivas Tucker said. “Our tribe strives for the preservation and promotion of our elegant culture.”

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