The Haskell Foundation raised enough money on Monday to replace a ceremonial graduation tipi that burned down in a fire.
The tipi, located near the intersection of Barker and Indian Avenues, was destroyed in an overnight fire on May 9. It was built to honor Haskell Indian Nations University’s graduating class, as originally reported by The Haskell Indian Leader, the school’s student newspaper.
The Haskell Foundation started a fundraiser following the fire, with a goal of $3,000 to replace the tipi. The fundraiser started on May 9 and met its goal Monday, according to a statement on the foundation’s Facebook page.
The fundraiser raised $15,780 from over 500 donors, according to its Facebook page. Extra money will go to the Student Emergency Fund, according to the statement. The foundation hopes to rebuild the tipi as soon as possible.
The fire was reported around 4:35 a.m. on May 9. Firefighters from Lawrence-Douglas County Fire and Medical arrived shortly after and extinguished the remainder of the fire, said Tom Fagan, division chief of administration for LDCFM, in a news release.
LDCFM is working with other federal agencies — including the FBI and Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — to investigate the fire, following a request from Haskell, according to a Monday news release. Fagan told the Kansan in an email there were no injuries associated with the fire.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to LDCFM.
Taylorlynn Johnston, president of the First Nations Student Association at the University of Kansas, said she and some Haskell students are concerned it was a case of arson.
“The graduation tipi, it’s not only a tradition — the way walking under the Campanile is for KU students — but it’s symbolic to many of us, especially tribes who have historically have used tipis,” Johnston said.
Johnston said she hopes KU administration comes out in support of Haskell, especially if the cause of fire is arson.
FNSA issued a statement on its Facebook page supporting the Haskell class of 2020.
“We will stand beside our brothers and sisters through this difficult time,” FNSA said in the statement. “We will never stop fighting for the basic human right of respect for our people, our culture and our history.”