‘Until the Birds Took Over the Singing’

The Native American Cultural Center becomes the center of Indigenous community on campus.

September 2023

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‘Until the Birds Took Over the Singing’

A HUB AND A HOME: David Eisenberg, ’81, Anecita Agustinez, ’81, Karen Atkinson, ’82, Cindy Aleck, ’83, and Willie Long Reed, ’78, MA ’85, at the Native American Cultural Center. Photo: Stanford University Archives

The early ’70s were a time of transformation for Stanford’s Indigenous community. A student population that had numbered in the single digits as late as 1969 pushed the school to increase Native enrollment and to better support Indigenous students already on the Farm. The immediate results of their efforts still resound today, from the founding of the Stanford American Indian Organization in 1970 to the beginnings of Powwow in 1971 to the opening of the Native American Cultural Center (NACC) on February 23, 1974. The latter occasion was marked by dancing “that lasted until the birds took over the singing,” Evelina Zuni Lucero, ’75, later remembered. Fifty years on, the NACC is the thread that runs through all Stanford Native life, says interim director Constance Owl, ’18. “It is definitely the hub,” she says, “but more so the home of the Native community on campus,” which now surpasses 450 students. Owl and her partner, Matthew Yellowtail, ’18—resident fellows in the Native theme house Muwekma-Tah-Ruk—are working to document the NACC’s history and legacy. “I feel like it’s on our shoulders to maintain that as we go into the future,” she says.

Sam Scott is a senior writer at Stanford. Email him at sscott3@stanford.edu.

Vintage 1973 Collection

Stanford is 50! It turns out we’re not the only one. Walk with us down memory lane as we sample some of the wonders and horrors of the 1973–74 academic year on the Farm, and in the world around.

Start the Presses

Were Golden

89 Rodins Find a New Home

A Godfather Delivers a Ransom Payment

A Splashy Debut

The Winds of Freedom

SLE Club

‘Until the Birds Took Over the Singing’

The Poet and the Coup

Steps Toward Saving Salamanders Are Set in Motion

A Sequel for Supersonic Flight?

The First Stanford Astronaut Returns from Space

The End of the Nursing Education Era

Keepers of the Flame

50 Years After the Stanford Murders, Three of Four Families Have Answers

A Classic Is Released

A Young Lawyer Wins an Educational Equity Case

Joining the Force


The Axe Is Stolen One Last Time

Fit to Be Tried

For Commencement Speaker, a Watergate Special Prosecutor

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