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Five Moons Student Lounge Offers Native Students a Supportive and Empowering Space

Five Moons Student Lounge Offers Native Students a Supportive and Empowering Space

OU staff member places "5 Moons Student Lounge" sign at socially distanced, masked ceremony

On March 24, 2021, Native American students, faculty and other members of the University of Oklahoma community gathered to officially dedicate the Five Moons Student Lounge – a space on the first floor of Copeland Hall for Native students to come together and continue the legacy of Native American culture.

The Five Moons represent the five Oklahoma-born Native American ballet dancers whose legacies not only shaped the world of dance inviting diversity into the world of ballet, but also left a remarkable impact on the state of Oklahoma.

The Five Moons troupe included Yvonne Chouteau of the Shawnee and Cherokee Tribes; Rosella Hightower of the Choctaw Nation; Moscelyne Larkin of the Peoria Nation and Eastern Shawnee Tribe; and sisters Maria and Marjorie Tallchief of the Osage Nation.

Among the speakers present at the dedication ceremony, held on the South Oval, was Geoffrey Standing Bear, chief of the Osage Nation and a 1980 OU graduate.

“This is a great step for our university to show respect for our Native American people through the five women who come from us,” Standing Bear said. “What I’m saying to the University of Oklahoma is thank you for showing respect to the Five Moons and for our Native people.”

Celena George, Miss Indian OU 2020-2021, speaks at the dedication of the Five Moons Student Lounge on March 24, 2021.

Celena George, Miss Indian OU 2020-2021, speaks at the dedication of the Five Moons Student Lounge on March 24, 2021.

The Division of Student Affairs was able to facilitate the creation and improvement of the Five Moons Student Lounge through generous donations made by community members who invested interest in the success of Indigenous people and Native scholars. The lounge includes a kitchenette area with plenty of snacks for students to enjoy between classes, as well as a fully renovated study space.

Antonia Belindo, coordinator of American Indian Programs and Services, said their hopes of providing these things would help increase students’ feelings of support from the university.

“These students are going to be fully equipped with the support they need that may not have always been understandably accessible to them,” Belindo said. “A quick snack between classes doesn’t happen if we don’t have our meal plan or the right money to take care of that. They will always have a place like that here, and that’s what this student lounge is for.”

view from inside the new student lounge

Renovations to the space were completed in fall 2020, and students continue to acclimate using this space full time.

Belindo and her team went through a lengthy process in naming the student lounge, contacting more than 2,400 enrolled OU students who identify with a Tribal Nation. After narrowing down the submissions through different trials, it was determined to name it the Five Moons Student Lounge.

“Many of the students my colleagues and I have the gift of knowing, supporting and teaching are also growing into their sense of power, place and identity every day here at OU,” said David Surratt, vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students. “My hope and my prayer for all of our students is that our symbols inspire us daily, and that we live with our identities boldly by establishing liberating spaces wherever we stand that spans throughout not only our campus, but throughout the world.”

“The University of Oklahoma identified the need for Native scholars to have an educationally empowering space where they feel respected and supported with physical, spiritual and emotional understanding,” Belindo said. “This space is a vital step toward healing, orienting and building the relationship with Native students at the University of Oklahoma.”

For more information about the Five Moons Student Lounge, contact Belindo at

By Madysson Morris

Article Published:  Wednesday, April 7, 2021