University of Montana endows $300K to Kyiyo in honor of Chief Old Person

Skylar Rispens

The University of Montana endowed the Kyiyo Native American Student Association $300,000 in the name of the late Blackfeet Chief Earl Old Person in a ceremony Monday at the Payne Family Native American Center.

Several relatives of Old Person were in attendance to celebrate the occasion alongside current members of Kyiyo and others in the university community. Photos and posters from previous Kyiyo powwows were on display around the rotunda.

University President Seth Bodnar kicked off the event by acknowledging that the campus is located on the traditional lands of the Salish and Kalispel people.

Bodnar recalled his personal experiences with Old Person fondly and reflected on attending his funeral on the Blackfeet Reservation just weeks ago.

“I have learned so much from watching him as a leader, watching the way he gave himself and the way that he committed himself to the betterment of his people and all people,” Bodnar said.

The money for the endowment came through an anonymous donor to the university to be used at the president’s discretion, Bodnar explained. When making his decision, he considered the different ways to improve and sustain UM.

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