About CU49


The Beginning -- Rick's Indian Stuff (1995 - 1996)

The Comanche University of the 49 is an outgrowth of a project that started in 1995 when I first got onto the Internet. It should come as no surprise that the first searches I performed were "Native American", "American Indian", and "Comanche". As I started looking at the pages listed from the search result, I have to admit that I became somewhat alarmed. Alarm then turned into anger and disgust. Why? Simple. There was site after site of NewAge Crystal-Waving Twinkie garbage out there. Add to this the number of goofy wannabe and twinkies I had seen at powwows, I knew I had to do something.

At this time I had just started creating web pages, the first being a site for a game I was playing at the time called Descent. The tools I had at the time (Macromedia Homesite) didn't allow me to do a lot and I definitely didn't know much about website design. Nevertheless, I was so irritated by the whole thing that I decided to make a web page.

The first incarnation of what would become CU49 was called very simply "Rick's Indian Stuff". It was a very simplistic page as one might suspect. It mainly consisted of one big page with cheesy Indian dividers. Interaction consisted of no more than my e-mail address. It had my first rant and raves at wannabes and twinkies. In addition to my first writings, I also had a few links and a page that was dedicated to pointing out offending (in my opinion) websites. I listed the hyperlink, names, and a description of what was wrong with the site. During this period, I spent an inordinate amount of time directly attacking wannabe and twinkie sites, going into their discussion boards and chat rooms and creating havoc, and generally making a pain out of myself. I received a lot of support from Indian people, but the very folks I was trying to reach were turned off by my tactics.

During this time I was president of the Randolph AFB Native American Council. Two of my fellow officers were members of the Rosebud Lakota Nation. Our Vice-President, Jaqui White Hat stated, that while the site was amusing, perhaps I should redirect my efforts into non-confrontational education and correction. Let them decide for themselves if they are acting someway. I took her advice and the second incarnation was born.

Note: Unfortunately, I kept no archived copies of Rick's Indian Stuff, therefore, no screen shot.


Rick's Indian 101 (1997 - 2001)

When I began to implement her ideas, I had just started using Microsoft FrontPage. The initial phase of conversion to the new format was simply to take Rick's Indian Stuff and using FrontPage's built-in themes, make the page look better. in fact, for a short period, the site was still called Rick's Indian Stuff. I also began writing more focused articles rather than my simplistic tirades. The focus of my writings was based upon my personal experiences of being Indian. What makes us what we are? I took these experiences and contrasted them to what I was seeing among the wannabe and twinkie population. In this way readers could examine themselves determine for themselves if their personal actions were the cause of hostility from Indian people. It seemed to be working.

In 1997, I received and e-mail from a visitor who said, "You know, you really ought to change the name. Your site is educational...sort of an Indian 101." With that e-mail, I changed the name to Rick's Indian 101. Yet despite this educational focus, I still wanted a way to make fun of twinkie sites without attacking anyone personally. This was the thought that eventually spawned the creation of Crystal Spirit Wolfrunner.

It was funny how that name came about. My friend Shannon Dunmeyer (non-native) thought my attack on twinkies was very funny. In fact, he used to even terrorize twinkie message boards and chat rooms with me. One day he sent me the eagle graphic you see on Crystal's page and said, "Rick, you ought to put this on your website to really get people going. It would be hilarious!" With the name and picture he created, I now had the inspiration to make Crystal Spirit Wolfrunner come to life. For more on Crystal's creation, see the CU49 Faculty page.

Other additions were the Wise Guy Indian's portal page, more interaction (a discussion board and chat room), the Indian News, Indian Humor, and recipes. All of these expanded the new found purpose of educating non-natives and having a place for natives to enjoy themselves. Rick's Indian 101 was taking off. Click on the graphic above to see a partial screen shot.

There was a short pause 1999 (just about a month) when I decided to take down the site. I had gotten to a point that I just couldn't keep up with the e-mail traffic, site maintenance, and the news. I decided to take the site offline. The e-mail traffic at this move was tremendous. People were very upset that I was quitting and begged for me to keep it alive. What could I do? I gave in and put the site back up. The banner headline read:


"Well, that was short lived. After receiving many e-mails of protest and a civil uprising necessitating several governors calling up the National Guard, I concede and put the site back up (plus I just got Frontpage 2000 and have to play with it). HOWEVER...don't expect a lot of updates. The conditions that led to the site's premature demise still exist, so my time to work on this site is still limited. I've made a few changes, but nothing really earth-shattering. The news site is the main thing that I can't keep up with and has been deleted. Everything else is still the same."

It stayed in the same format for the next two years.


Indian 101 (2001-2005)

The change from Rick's Indian 101 to just Indian 101 was the next logical step. When I moved to Colorado, suddenly I had a bit of time to play with. Work on the site became possible. I decided to make it look more like a college course. There wasn't a whole lot of new content, but the look and feel of the site changed. I changed the titles of several of the pages (i.e. Discussion Board became Student Center), added the campus store, and so on. I also finally created the Indian 101 award. I not sure if awards are still in vogue, but what the heck. There wasn't any real new content as my life once again became very busy when I started teaching at the University of Phoenix (Colorado Springs campus) and was also working on my Master's degree. The News Service (at the time called Current Events) was shut down for good in November 2001. It was simply impossible to keep up with. Even though I pretty much neglected the site for the next four years, the new look and feel actually kept it alive. Universities and educational websites starting using it as a reference. It even became a featured site on about.com under Race Relations. The site remained static during this time.


Comanche University of the 49 (2005 - Present)

Once again, the bug to work on the site came upon me again. Work actually began in 2004. I had finished my Master's degree the year earlier, I stopped teaching at the University as they had canceled my program, and my personal life was finally settling down. Additionally, I had started an online program through the University of Colorado - Denver that leads to a certification in Web-Based Training (WBT) development. As I learned more and more about web design, specifically web-based training design, I decided that Indian 101 was a perfect place to practice some of these skills. The goal was to take Indian 101 and make it look and feel like a real school.

The first thing to do was choose the name. This was actually quite easy. For several years the "Meet the Instructor" page stated that I had received my doctorate from the Comanche University of the 49. Why not just use that name?

One of the biggest challenges was to give the site the feel of a legitimate educational site, yet keep the humorous aspect that has always been a part of Indian 101. It was difficult to find that balance, but hopefully I achieved it. Other issues were things like: Did I want people to enter through the Wise Guy Indians portal site or do I have them come straight to CU49? If so, how do I incorporate Crystal Spirit Wolfrunner? In the earlier versions of the web site, when folks entered through Wise Guy Indians, they had to go through Crystal Spirit Wolfrunner. This often caused confusion as to what was really going on here, which of course, was all part of the joke. This was one of the toughest decisions I had to make. Ultimately, I decided to have them come straight into CU49. That gave more of the feel I going for -- a "legitimate" college. Crystal became part of the faculty; Wise Guy Indians became a place for "all other" stuff, and so on.

As CU49 begins its tenth year since its humble beginnings as Rick's Indian Stuff, I hope that it will continue to be a place that informs and amuses and meets the overall goal of having people see Native Americans as they are -- real people.

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