RSU’s Native American Student Association Honors Indigenous Culture and Heritage

With nearly 40 tribal nations within the state, Oklahoma ranks among the highest in the nation with regards to its indigenous population.

At Rogers State University, the culture, history, and traditions of all Native American tribes are
celebrated and advanced by the student group, the Native American Student Association (NASA).

Currently, the group is under the stewardship of faculty advisor Rebekah Warren, RSU instructor of English and humanities, and is actively seeking new members interested in learning more about the Indigenous people of Oklahoma.

“NASA exists as a hub for Native American students to gather, to learn more about the rich culture and history of their ancestors and to meet with other students in celebration of that,” said Warren, herself of Cherokee descent. “When the group was originally founded several years ago, group members were required to belong to a federally recognized tribe, but over time, NASA has evolved into something that’s a little more encompassing, more inclusive, and now, if there are students who are simply interested in learning more about Native American culture, we welcome them in the group.”

Prior to Warren serving as faculty advisor, the group thrived under the stewardship of Dr. Hugh Foley, department head and professor of fine arts, gathering regularly and hosting annual events, such as pow- wows and cultural festivals on campus – events which were suspended during COVID.

“COVID affected everything, and we had to hit the ‘pause’ button on the group’s activities. “A lot of social gatherings were suspended during that time,” Warren said. “To some extent, we’re still dealing with the consequences (of COVID). Even though things have largely returned to ‘normal,’ the group lost members and we’re now in a building year as we return to the gatherings and social activities of the previous years.”

This semester, Warren took a group of NASA students to a screening of “Killers of the Flower Moon,” something which she said was “deeply impactful” for many of them, and hosted an Indian Taco dinner, with her own grandmother handling cooking duties.

Plans for the spring 2024 semester include a trip to Tahlequah for the annual Symposium on the American Indian, and the return of the Native American Heritage Festival to the RSU campus.

“Right now, our membership is small, so we have only so many students who can volunteer for the heritage festival. It would be great to have more, obviously, but ultimately, we’re here to be a welcoming space for students, and to have an environment for them to share their experiences and to learn – from one another, and from history about their culture,” she said.

Skiatook native Jamesduke McIlvane said he’s thankful for NASA.

“I haven’t been part of NASA for very long, but I can sense an amazing amount of generosity and kindness within this organization,” McIlvane said. “It brings a feeling of community that may be hard to find outside of the university and Oklahoma.

“I’m a Cherokee warrior (U.S. Army combat veteran), majoring in cybersecurity at RSU, which enables me to feel like I’m continuing my mission of safeguarding citizens,” he continued. “I truly enjoy having an association such as NASA here at RSU.”

Leadership opportunities, news, and scholarship information relevant to Native American students are also discussed during the group’s regular meetings.

For more information about the Native American Student Association, contact Warren at or 918-343-7857.

Rogers State University currently offers an Associate of Arts in Native American studies, a degree option which enhances a student’s understanding of Native American culture, history, spirituality, language, art and contemporary tribal issues. For more information about this degree option or others, visit

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