An initiative to strengthen Native nation research and relationships with OU was launched Wednesday, along with leadership changes and new positions added to the Native Nations Center.
As part of the Native Peoples Initiative, three new Native American Studies Department faculty positions and two endowed chair positions were created, Kesha Keith, OU's director of media relations, said in an email to The Daily.
Amanda Cobb-Greetham transitioned from the chair of the department to the director of the Native Nations Center, according to the email. Warren Queton, OU’s tribal liaison, took on an added role as chair of the new Native Nations Center Advisory Board, and Native American Studies professor Raymond Orr was named interim chair of the department.
“Developing community-engaged, university-wide initiatives will involve many people and many conversations,” Cobb-Greetham said in an email. “I am transitioning in order to be able to devote my administrative energies to this effort. The (Native Nations Center) will develop an advisory board in order to deepen OU’s relationship with tribal nations.”
Cobb-Greetham said the initiative includes all three OU campuses and consists of four main goals: to provide a digital and physical clearing house for those interested in Native initiatives, to create a research hub or think tank, to provide research opportunities and to better OU’s relationship with Native nations.
The initiative’s aim, according to the email, is to make OU and the Native Nations Center “the premier center for research on Native cultures and sovereignty.”
Plans for the initiative came from the work of department faculty, students, community members, stakeholders and administrators, Cobb-Greetham said.
“(Queton) will chair this advisory board — he is the perfect person for this role,” Cobb-Greetham said. “(Native American Studies) is a strong department, and I look forward to Dr. Raymond Orr's vision and leadership. A strong Native American Studies Department is core to the mission of the (Native Nations Center) and its initiatives.”
According to the email, other efforts to serve OU’s Native students have been made recently, including the opening of the Native American student lounge in Copeland Hall, the hiring of Jared Wahkinney by Admissions and Recruitment as a new admissions counselor, the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education’s creation of new indigenous education programs and the Office of Student Life’s hiring of Antonia Belindo as coordinator of American Indian Programs and Services.
This story was updated on Dec. 5 at 1:15 p.m. to reflect that the information was from OU's Director of Media Relations Kesha Keith and not an OU press release.