Native American students at Oregon State University and their family members, friends and supporters are celebrating the coming of a new cultural center building on campus. The celebration takes place Wednesday, May 11, 10 a.m. at the Longhouse., and will feature speakers from many of the nine federally recognized Indian tribes of Oregon.
Since 1971, the Native American Cultural Center has been housed in the Native American Longhouse, a Quonset hut just southwest of the Memorial Union. The Longhouse serves as a place of multicultural and inter-cultural education. The Longhouse is used as a teaching area for traditional singing, dancing, storytelling and ceremony.
The new center, which will be built next to the current location, extending over to the current parking lot next to Moreland Hall, will begin construction next month with completion expected in early 2012. The Quonset hut will be relocated, and existing sacred space will be transformed into an honoring space.
The new center will include a gathering area for activities and cultural events, designated space for student resources and lounge space to promote community building. The center will mimic the design of a traditional longhouse, including a sloped roof and cedar plank siding.
Seattle-based architect Johnpaul Jones and his architecture firm, Jones & Jones, are designing the new center. Jones, who has Cherokee/Choctaw heritage, was the architect for the critically acclaimed National Museum of the American Indian, part of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., and has designed other Native American centers at colleges and universities.
The reconstruction of the Native American Longhouse will be performed to the “silver” standards of LEED, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification system, and will feature building materials and design that allow the project to be energy efficient. Responsibly harvested and certified wood will be chosen with low-toxic paint and finishes. Storm water from the roof of the new building will be directed into planting beds before being discharged into the storm drain system. Redevelopment of the parking lot will include landscaped beds that contain native indigenous plants from the Pacific Northwest and less paving near the stand of existing trees.
A number of other events celebration Native American culture and heritage are taking place this week:
• Salmon Bake – May 11, noon to 3 p.m., Memorial Union Brick Mall.
• Traditional Ecological Knowledge Initiative Sustainability Conference, May 12-13, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 107 Richardson Hall.
• Pow Wow – May 13, McAlexander Field House. Dinner begins at 5:30 p.m., and Grand Entry is at 7 p.m.