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Native American Center almost a reality

On Tuesday, Dec. 8 a pre-bid meeting was held to find a contracting manager for the new Native American Student and Community Center.

Burt Ewart, the program manager for the Native American Center, said this was the first time contractors could see the entire scope of the project.

Construction on the center will begin in the middle of the year. The goal is to have the center in operation by Fall, 2003.

“It has been a very difficult project to get to this point,” said Don Stastney, architect for the Native American Student and Community Center.

The center has been a vision for the university for almost a decade. Stastney explained to the contractors the delay in building the center has been due to fundraising.

To date 3.6 million dollars has been raised for this project. The cap for the budget is a little over $4 million.

Stastney said the actualization of the center has been a grassroots effort.

Funding has come from a combination of gifts, grants and bonds.

He said that this may seem like a small job to the contractors but the reward of the work would be immeasurable. The center will be a little over 11,000 square feet.

Stastney advanced the need for such a center, noting that the Native American population at Portland State is increasing. There are currently 198 Native American students at Portland State, including undergraduates and graduates.

Stastney credits the growth to an increased number of programs being offered. He explained to the group of bidding contractors the importance of the Native American Student and Community Center.

Stastney said the idea of the center is to help establish a sense of community for Native American students at PSU.

The center will have a meeting space for students to gather and relax, have symposiums, mini pow wows and graduation ceremonies for Native American students.

The center will also provide office space for the Student offices for United Indian Students in Higher Education (UISHE) and American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES).

“It [the center] is rich with what it can do and the potential with it over time,” Stastney said.

Stastney also discussed how many Native American students come from rural settings to this urban university environment and experience culture shock. The center will hopefully make that transition easier for students.

However, Stastney stressed that center would not only be for native American students but for the Portland State community as a whole.

The next step in this long process is to start the actual bidding for the project and begin construction this summer.