You need a village: the native space

By Naz Santiago, DASA Marketing Intern

Native Space is a safe, community – and identity – driven space for Indigenous students and Indigenous allies, or students who wish to immerse themselves in the knowledge of Indigenous cultures. Founded in 2016, this community is perfect for Indigenous students who want to feel connected to their culture, who want to be seen and heard, who want to connect with their peers, and who need a home away from home. . The goal of Native Space is to connect Indigenous students with each other and help them build a larger community while helping them find mentorship from faculty and staff.

In their own words

Based in Wood Hall, Native Space helps make the NC State campus smaller for the first incoming Native years. This community provides Indigenous students with the tools and a platform to defend themselves. It also helps students connect with other Indigenous organizations such as the Native American Student Association (NASA) so that they can continue to build their community and expand their network when they graduate from the State of. North Carolina. This village also provides students with the support and resources necessary to continue to improve the environment for Indigenous students and effect positive change.

“Some of the benefits and opportunities that I have been able to enjoy living in Native Space are that I can be with other native people and let others know about my experiences and learn more about their experiences,” said Lee Tartaglia ( story ’25), a resident of Native Space and a member of the Lumbee Tribe. “You get a better understanding of the different stories whenever you are surrounded by them. ”

Native Space members gather in the Wood Hall boardroom

Gavin Bell, Assistant Director of Multicultural Student Affairs, became involved with Native Space while pursuing his Masters at NC State in 2019 and has continued to help organize and participate in Native Space initiatives since. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bell traveled with residents of Native Space in Washington, DC, where they were able to learn about different Indigenous groups from across the United States and North America.

“We were able to have a lot of intimate conversations on this trip that we couldn’t have in the same capacity on campus,” Bell said. “We talked about many issues in our community, whether it’s poverty or mental health, or the pressures you feel as an Indigenous student coming here to be successful for your family or for your people.”

Native Space members and staff at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC
Native Space members and staff at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC

Native Space has also provided members with resume writing workshops, social programs, academic and professional development workshops, cultural sharing and presentation events, and events that help students connect with mentors. . So far this year, Native Space has hosted two film screenings, and more programs and events are in the works.

The students and staff of Native Space hope that membership will continue to grow and invite all students to get involved in their programming.

Three students dressed in traditional Native American attire in front of a large window at Talley Student Union
Native Space partners with Native American Student Association for cultural events

“I would love to see Native Space become a mentoring-centric village,” said Bell. “My hope is to create a somewhat larger network with the village that goes beyond the first years that come for a year and then leave… I want the students to stay involved in the village so that when the future first years come in in the village and trying to navigate their spaces on campus, what they do and what their passions are, I want there to be upper class students who come back and directly mentor and advise these students.

“I hope Native Space will get much bigger,” Tartaglia said. “I hope that we can really grow in terms of population and that we can really build our community.”

Steps in front of Wood Hall
Wood Hall, pictured here, is home to the Native Space Village.

Incoming students who identify themselves as native on their application to the state of North Carolina automatically receive information about Native Space and other support programs for native students on campus. The village is also open to any student wishing to deepen and immerse themselves in the native culture. Applications for Living and Learning Villages in the State of North Carolina open in February. Learn more about Native Space here and find out about the application process here.


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