Compromise reached on cafeteria name change

By Peter Schuh

NIU’s Pow Wow and Blackhawk cafeterias are expected to fall victim to “cultural sensitivity,” according to Holmes Student Center officials.

A decision to change the name of the Pow Wow Cafeteria came in response to a request by Native Americans Together Insuring Our Nation’s Sovereignty (NATIONS), said student center Director Judd Baker.

The Blackhawk name will not be changed, but a plaque commemorating Blackhawk will be placed in the cafeteria.

Representatives of NATIONS met with student center officials late last year to discuss changing the names of the cafeterias, which are located on the main floor of the student center. Members of the organization said their reasons for the request dealt with feelings that the names were not respectful of their people.

“We understand what NATIONS is talking about,” Baker said. “If they feel the name is offensive then we have no problem complying with their request. The name ‘Pow Wow’ carries no significance for me and I don’t believe it does for the building.”

Karry-Ann Moisant, one of five NATIONS council members who heads the organization, said the outcome of the meetings looked hopeful.

“They said that they would make a recommendation to the administration to have the name of the Pow Wow changed,” she said. “We would be able to go through the Blackhawk and remove anything we thought was offensive. We would also set up an educational plaque commemorating Blackhawk.”

Jenny Meness, who had headed the initial effort to change the names after the issue first sparked, said she had mixed emotions about the decision.

“I think it’s great that they’re (student center officials) achieving a level of cultural sensitivity in understanding that the name change means a lot to us,” she said. “I’m not too happy about the Blackhawk, but that was something we could compromise on. We couldn’t compromise on the Pow Wow.”

NATIONS council member John Stenson said the organization held other reservations about the situation.

“We’re happy about the name change and everything that went with it, but we’re concerned because we haven’t heard anything further on the appeal to the administration. We’re just afraid it (the name change) might stay a recommendation.”

Baker said there would be an opportunity in February for students to submit their suggestions for a new name for the Pow Wow.

“A decision on the name probably won’t be made until Spring Break,” he said.

In addition, Baker said, the official name change in the cafeteria most likely will not happen until next fall.