Press Releases

UCO Native American Faculty & Staff Association Creates Scholarship, Promotes Indigenous Peoples Day

Oct. 4, 2016

Media Contact: Sarah Neese, Communications and Marketing Coordinator, UCO University Communications, 405-974-2121,


Native American students, faculty and staff at the University of Central Oklahoma now have a new ally in the UCO Native American Faculty and Staff Association (NAFSA).

The mission of UCO NAFSA, in collaboration with the broader Central community, is to support the success of Native American faculty, staff and students at the university by advocating for initiatives, programs and policies that promote an understanding of Native American issues.

In addition, NAFSA is dedicated to the promotion of the Central Six tenants of transformative learning, to serve the metropolitan community and to establish a support network for Native Americans at UCO.

“UCO’s newly formed Native American Faculty and Staff Association is honored to serve our Native American students, faculty and staff,” said Roberta Botello, NAFSA president and enrolled member of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes.

“We believe that we have a responsibility and obligation to celebrate, honor and respect our native people, cultures and traditions. NAFSA membership is open to all university faculty and staff.”

In place of charging membership dues, NAFSA has created the Native American Faculty and Staff Association Endowed Scholarship.

“We want to ensure that the legacy we leave behind will be sustainable for our children, grandchildren and our grandchildren’s children,” Botello said.

Through a series of initiatives, NAFSA, along with the university, is seeking to develop ongoing, mutually beneficial collaborations with Oklahoma’s Native American Nations in areas including higher education, awareness of the past, outreach programming, empowerment, and cultural recovery and preservation.

One such initiative is Indigenous Peoples Day, which has replaced Columbus Day on Central’s campus. UCO adopted the change following a number of campus forums that explored the importance of an alternate name, requests from several student groups and the UCO Faculty Senate’s unanimous passage of a resolution in favor of the change.

During the celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day, UCO will welcome leaders of Oklahoma’s Native American Nations to campus Wednesday, Oct. 5 for “A Gathering of Nations,” a ceremony and banquet honoring Native Americans’ wide-ranging achievements and valuable contributions to Oklahoma’s civic, cultural and economic vitality.

UCO President Don Betz highlights the importance of recognizing Native American culture on the UCO campus.

“Central is proud to have a long history of celebrating Native American culture and studying the history of indigenous people through university courses, programs and events,” Betz said.

“We are also committed to providing a diverse and inclusive learning and working environment for all members of our community. Central’s move to observe Indigenous Peoples Day paves the way for a deeper awareness, consciousness and respect for Native American members of UCO’s student body, faculty and staff.”

Assistant Vice President for Global and Cultural Competency and chair of the Indigenous Peoples Day committee J. David Macey, Ph.D., hopes that the event will be the first of many for the future.

“It is my hope that this commemoration of Indigenous Peoples Day at UCO will be the catalyst for a wide range of new programs and initiatives to engage with and to serve Oklahoma’s Native American Nations,” Macey said.

For more information about NAFSA or Indigenous Peoples Day, contact Botello at 405-974-5571 or