Thursday, April 1, 2010
K-STATE STUDENT FROM OKLAHOMA CELEBRATES HIS NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE AS PRESIDENT OF UNIVERSITY'S NATIVE AMERICAN STUDENT ASSOCIATION
MANHATTAN -- Cameron Piercy's passion for his Native American heritage is evident in his position as president of the Kansas State University Native American Student Association.
Piercy, junior in communication studies and political science, Comanche, Okla., is one-sixteenth Choctaw. He said that most people do not believe him when he says that he is a Native American.
"Jaws drop," Piercy said. "I have my Indian card in my pocket, and sometimes I show it to people just to prove that I seriously am a Native American, even though I may not look like it. I tell people that I am just doing what I can to celebrate our culture, and if I wasn't doing it, it would get done -- but maybe not in the way that I envision it and dream it."
Although one-sixteenth may seem like a small percentage, Piercy said it is a big part of who he is. By becoming involved in the Native American Student Association at K-State, also known as NASA, he has had the opportunity to learn even more about his culture.
"Since I've been in NASA, I've been able to see some of the northern tribe dances, like the Iowa and Potawatomi, where as I'm used to the southern tribe dances," Piercy said. "While the tribal dances are totally different, many aspects of their culture are the same. Even though they never interacted with one another, they came to have many of the same traditions, which is very interesting to me."
Piercy credited his great-grandmother, who is half Native American, for passing on her passion for the culture. Growing up, Piercy remembers going to powwows with his great-grandmother and other members of his family, where he became immersed in the Native American culture.
As a minority student, Piercy applied for a Gates-Millennium Scholarship and was selected as a recipient based on his heritage, previous academic achievement, community service and leadership potential.
Piercy has delivered on his leadership potential, serving not only as president of the Native American Student Association, but also as president of Lambda Pi Eta, the communications studies honorary, and treasurer of the College of Arts and Sciences Council. He also is treasurer of the K-State Forensics Team and a member of Chimes, the junior honorary.
While his activities and full-time class schedule keep Piercy busy, he said he would not have it any other way. He also said he definitely would not forgo the opportunity to keep his Native American heritage alive, something he plans on doing many years into the future.
"I definitely want my kids to know their culture and their ancestry," Piercy said. "They probably won't have the chance to meet my great-grandma, who is a very interesting lady. She has some of the Native American traits -- she is very quiet and thoughtful, and my kids may not have the chance to see that, but I hope I can convey it to them."