BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — As schools prepare to welcome students back to campus, there is a new addition at SDSU.

In the heart of South Dakota State University’s campus, you’ll find the new American Indian Student Center.

“This is part of our strategic plan to reach out to all the citizens in South Dakota including the American Indians that are on the nine reservations in our state,” SDSU President Barry Dunn said. “Tribal members that live in our urban communities too, to provide them the benefits of higher education.”

The building was completed in June, offering space for classes, meetings and other events. It is also home to many cultural programs and activities on campus.

“It’s great for campus to see our center right here next to all the residential halls, the student union, just closer to what’s going on on-campus, and to see our students and we get to celebrate all this beautiful artwork and our culture and the campus gets to do that with us,” American Indian Student Center director Erica Moore said.

Many university campuses have similar buildings, but they are often smaller and tucked away.

“We have a lot of really strong relationships with folks in nine tribal communities here in South Dakota and beyond,” said Mark Freeland, coordinator of the American Indian Studies program. “And that we’re able to host and welcome here to this particular location is a really large step in the right direction to help heal and mend some of those relationships, particularly in education. Within American Indian communities, education has not been a very positive thing through the boarding school process in the early 20th century, that’s been an issue. And this is a significant step forward into developing proper and appropriate relationships with indigenous knowledge and indigenous people.”

Faculty transitioned to the new building at the beginning of June. They will host their early orientation for students on August 14.