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Being an Ottawa Indian at Ottawa University

By Joslyn Banta
On August 28, 2020

Photo courtesy of Joslyn Banta

My life as a Native American at Ottawa University has been an interesting experience. As a part of the Otter Clan of the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma, I am constantly trying to find ways to spread awareness about my tribe and honor my ancestors. Here, I feel my tribe is appreciated and welcomed; this university also makes sure to share information on my tribe. 


Arriving in my sophomore year, this college experience has been vastly different from my freshman year at the University of Missouri. At Ottawa, I am constantly reminded of my heritage, and seeing my tribe’s flag in the chapel every Wednesday makes me feel at home. 


Later in the year, there will hopefully be an informational segment on my tribe. Myself and other native students will dress in traditional attire and perform a dance. This will be a rewarding experience because I will be able to share my tribe with others and spread awareness of our traditions. My cousin, senior Dakota Bunch, will also be participating in this informational event where we will be honoring our family by wearing traditional northern buckskin dresses. 


When I first arrived on campus, I was whisked into summer orientation. The first day of summer orientation, I met Ottawa president Dr. Reggies Wenyika. He was telling us some of the history of this university. I was greeted with the knowledge of how our tribe was pushed to Oklahoma and this university was built. After this, Wenyika talked about the treaty the Ottawa tribe signed with the university and how it is one of the oldest treaties in the United States. 


Being a part of the Ottawa tribe and going to Ottawa University has so far been an extremely fortunate experience. Everyone at this university makes you feel at home. I also am reminded daily of my heritage and where I have come from.


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