First Peoples Native Center Celebrates

A man and a woman place a decorative blanket around another woman
By Jill Dolan

May 24, 2024 - 03:29 PM

The First Peoples Native Center (FPNC) will celebrate students who are graduating, transferring or completing certificates from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Summit Event Center.

This year, 13 students are graduating or transferring, more than double from last year, according to FPNC Director Primavera Reza-Nakonechny.

Man holding sage The celebration, in keeping with cultural traditions, will open with a sage blessing by an elder in the community. “Sage in the Native American Indigenous community is healing and has powerful meaning behind it,” Reza-Nakonechny said.  

The blessing will be followed by a community dance performance by a danza Azteca group, which includes two Mt. SAC alumni and Student Trustee César Tlatoāni Alvarado.

Graduating students will each be blanketed, symbolizing being wrapped in community in recognition of their accomplishments. Each blanket features a pattern and colors special to the Native American artist who designed it, Reza-Nakonechny explained.  

Those who are not graduating are also invited to attend so they are able to see, feel and understand the support that exists for them at Mt. SAC.

“There are a large amount of students we lose between their first and second year,” Reza-Nakonechny said. "That’s why is it so important that the community and tribal members are in attendance. The first-years need to know they have support here to continue on. By seeing those that are transferring or graduating, they have role models and can aspire to take it to the next level.”

Reza-Nakonechny said the event also serves to educate the community, on campus and off.

“Everybody is invited to attend and show their support for our students,” she said, adding, “I would hope the community sees the center as a hub to learn about the Native community.”