Jerome’s home away from home

MINOT, N.D. Monday, Oct. 11 will mark the second anniversary of the City of Minot’s recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. To prepare for the celebration, Kenzie Jerome reflects on her time with the Minot State Native American Cultural Awareness Club (NACAC). 

“It was the first place I found when I got here in 2018,” said the senior addiction studies major. “I was down here by myself. I didn’t know anybody, I didn’t know anything. So, when I found out about the club, I was like, ‘Oh, maybe I should go find this place.’” 

Jerome grew up in Belcourt and earned her Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees at Turtle Mountain Community College. Minot State’s Native American Cultural Center (NACC) was a large influence in her choice to transfer here over the other universities in the state. 

 “We’re one of the only schools that has a Native American club, and it is actually one of the longest standing clubs on campus,” she said. 

You may know the NACAC from the annual Spring Honor Dance and Powwow, but this year they are expanding their presence on campus to include Indigenous Peoples’ Day and various events throughout Native American Cultural Month in November.  

Events on Oct. 11 include a smudging ceremony at 9 a.m. in the NACC and a lecture from artist Bill Brien of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa at 6 p.m. in the Northwest Arts Center.

November’s events are all listed on the MSU CALENDAR, but highlights include showings of two documentaries about Native American culture and Hulu’s new series “Reservation Dogs,” guest speakers, and jewelry making. 

On top of campus events, the NACAC also provides a variety of activities and resources available to all Minot State students. 

“We serve as a tutoring center, we have counseling, we have advising. Annette helps us whenever we're having troubles in classes and is always there to redirect us and fill us in,” Jerome said. “We have our own kitchenette up here with a stove and noodles, cereal, granola bars, we have a computer lab. We just kind of have our own little safe place on campus, and we open it up to everybody.

“I think the reason I really wanted to find this place was because it was something I was familiar with. It's not abnormal to see a buffalo hanging in the corner. I come in here and smell the sage in the mornings, and I can smudge whenever. I have a test, and it's like, ‘Oh no, I need to feel better.’ It just gives a homey feeling when I'm not at home.” 

As much as Jerome feels at home in the NACC, after she graduates in May, she plans on returning to Belcourt and using her degree to help the community. 

“Substance abuse is seen there just as much as it is anywhere, but since we are a smaller community, it seems to be something everyone is familiar with whether it be a family member, oneself, or a friend,” she said. “I want to use both my education and cultural background to help people find and stay on the road to sobriety.”

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 10/07/21   

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