“American Indian people belong on this campus and we want them here.” — University of Oklahoma’s Tribal Liaison and Associate Director Warren Queton
Queton seeks partnership with MCN
OKMULGEE, Okla. — In order to better connect with Native students, the University of Oklahoma established its first tribal liaison position last fall.
OU Tribal Liaison and Associate Director Warren Queton said his position was established when a diverse group of students came together in 2015 and wrote a manifesto of things they wanted implemented on campus.
“So the students felt that the university needed to step up its game and make their university more friendly towards our Indian culture,” he said.
Queton said the students met with OU President David Boren Sept. 25, 2015 to discuss the need for a Native Nations Center and a tribal liaison officer.
He said the students also wanted to see more faculty on campus and elevate the status of the Native American studies program to a department level.
Queton said his role involves recruiting more Native students, retaining Native enrollment and helping Native students feel at home at OU.
“American Indian people belong on this campus and we want them here,” he said.
Queton said they are developing programs for students so they can not only be successful at OU, but also successful in their tribal communities.
He wants to work with tribes to better serve their citizens on campus.
Queton said they have a partnership with the Choctaw Nation and Chickasaw Nation.
“We are partnering with them and bringing them on to this campus so that we can better show them the resources that we have on campus for their citizens,” he said.
Queton said OU has a lot of resources for Native students to utilize, but the problem is some students do not know how to find those resources.
“So what Choctaw Nation and Chickasaw Nation have done is worked with our office to better resource out to their citizens,” he said.
Queton said the Choctaw Nation holds Choctaws of OU Night, which has guest speakers from the OU and the Choctaw community.
He said the meetings enable the students to network and find resources on campus.
Queton said he has done outreach work with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the Cherokee Nation.
“We want to partner with them and bring a day when they come on campus, maybe once a semester and really network with their citizens . . . put a name with a face, so we really resource out with what their need may be,” he said.
Queton said his goal is to find ways to contact incoming students and connect them to the Native community at OU.
He said he has had discussions with Native students regarding their needs such as financial and academic issues.
“My first year has been to identify those issues. Find out what are we doing to intervene and help our students,” Queton said. “I’m doing a full-scale analysis of what those issues are at this time, so that we can build programs that intervene and help resolve some of the issues our Native students are having.”
Queton said as the tribal liaison, he reports to Vice President for the Office of University Community Jabar Shumate, and their sole purpose is to make sure students are equipped with the resources to survive and thrive at OU.
OU recently hired three Native American studies professors to teach tribal governance, environmental sustainability and language revitalization.