LAWRENCE, Kan. — The poles are all that were left of a tipi that burned to the ground Saturday morning at Haskell Indian Nations University.
Jared Nally, a student at the school, said Haskell put it up to honor graduating seniors.
“A lot of people are really comfortable with their traditions with tipis, with fire. And because it’s been an ongoing legacy for Haskell, it’s starting to look like this was an act of vandalism,” Nally said.
The Lawrence Fire Department said in a press release that they, along with other agencies, are conducting an investigation into how the fire started.
But the Haskell community wants answers.
Nally said for Native Americans, burning tipis is a painful reminder of the past.
“That really touches on a traumatic history for native people, where tipi burning was used to eradicate and control native populations,” Nally said. “So this really picks up the historical trauma and makes this feel like a very sensitive issue for us.”
Haskell is funded by the Bureau of Indian Education. Nally hopes to see more funding go toward implementing campus safety.
“We don’t have security cameras,” Nally said. “Walking at night, a lot of the light posts flicker on and off. So it’s not even a very well-lit campus.”
The Haskell Foundation has started a fundraiser to replace the ceremonial tipi.