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On Tuesday Sept. 2 during University Hour, CSUSM unveiled the new Tukwut Statue in Tukwut Courtyard. The sun shown vividly as students, faculty and staff, and tribal representatives quickly filled the 50 black metal seats. Large blue umbrellas offered shade while a nearby table offered light snacks and refreshments. Before the ceremony began slightly after noon, over 100 spectators sat and stood in attention and admiration as seven key speakers informed the audience for the next half hour.
Tishmall Turner, Tribal Liaison for CSUSM opened the ceremony stating, "Tukwut is the Luiseno word for mountain lion."
"I learned a brief history about the grounds our campus is built upon," said business senior Kyle McClellan.
Chairman Chris Denvers of the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians spoke next. He conducted a spiritual ceremony, surrounding audience members in a trail of smoke. He gave thanks and praises for CSUSM and the Luiseno union.
"The opening prayer was amazing and very interesting," said kinesiology senior Carol Epperson.
President Haynes spoke briefly. Then Alex Hoang conducted his speech. He described a fictional scene of a tukwut and her cubs freely roaming the grounds that CSUSM rests on 200 to 300 years ago.
"Fellow students...the Tukwut Courtyard is yours...it represents the promise of where we came from, the success we have achieved today and the prosperity that is to come. The integrity of our courtyard stands in the preservation of the name Tukwut," he said.
Sam Fernandez, American Indian Student Alliance President and Neal Hoss, Vice President of University Advancement spoke as well. Lastly, Robert Freeman who constructed Tukwut Statue explained how the statue was built.
"The statue is going to get you. He is crouched and ready to pounce," he said in a playful tone.
"It was a nice opportunity to hear about the Native American influence at CSUSM and to learn the background and meaning of [Tukwut]," said kinesiology senior Caitlin Amiton.
Dozens of students, faculty and staff, and tribal representatives rushed the Tukwut Statue after the ceremony ended. Flashes and smiles quickly occupied the previously covered statue.
© 2008 The Pride