Skip to main content

Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center

Sankofa icon on the exterior of the cultural center

Building Features 

The Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center is home to a number of unique features that share the stories of the Palouse and the WSU community. Click on the elements below to explore the Cultural Center facilities. 

  • Knowledge Rooms

    La Malinche

    Golden Eagle & Serpent

    Wisdom, Learning, Sun & Earth

    • Door Panel Art: "La Malinche" by Alfredo Arreguin
    • Iconography by David Kendall
    • Unique cast bronze furniture inlays by Judith & Daniel Caldwell
    The Prophet door panel artwork

    Coyote

    Cleverness, Transformation, Trickster, Teacher

    • Door Panel Art: Iméec’inpun (The Prophet) by Nakia Williamson-Cloud
    • Iconography by David Kendall
    • Unique cast bronze furniture inlays by Judith & Daniel Caldwell
    The Chameleon

    Turtle

    Longevity, Endurance, Strength, Creativity

    • Door Panel Art: "The Chameleon" by Andres Barrioquinto
    • Iconography by David Kendall
    • Unique cast bronze furniture inlays by Judith & Daniel Caldwell

    Sankofa Room

    Reflection, Tradition, Knowledge, Respect

    • Door Panel Art:"Reading Room" by Barbara Earl Thomas
    • Iconography by David Kendall
    • Unique cast bronze furniture inlays by Judith & Daniel Caldwell

     

  • Meditation Pavilion

    Meditation Pavilion 

    The Meditation Pavilion is a quiet place for thoughtful reflection and contemplation, open to all who visit the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center. This unique space contains the Sacred Earth Ring with soil from Niimíípu (Nez Perce) land, placed here as a reminder of their historical ownership of the land. The bronze ring in the center of the chamber was created by Judith and Daniel Caldwell to reference traditional Niimíípu cradleboard floral beading patterns. Interior wood in the pavilion was harvested from a tree that was growing on the land where the Cultural Center now sits.

    No reservation is required to use the Meditation Pavilion. Those wishing to utilize this space must ask for access from the Building Attendant, located at the front reception desk. To preserve the beauty and integrity of the pavilion, food or drink is not permitted and no video or still photography may be taken within the space.

  • Patio

    Patio area with blue sky

    Patio

    Visitors to the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center can relax or study on the outdoor patio, open and available during regular hours when weather permits. Additionally, the patio can be reserved as part of a larger Cultural Center event.  

    Multicultural Greek Plaques

    Unique cast bronze plaques by Judith and Daniel Caldwell adorn the wall bordering the patio area. Each plaque represents an organization within WSU's Multicultural Greek community as well as Dr. Floyd's fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha. The wall contains space for additional plaques to be added as additional organizations become recognized at WSU.  

    Alpha Phi Alpha Bronze Plaque

  • The Eyes of the Elders

    Bronze eyes inlaid on the floor

    The Eyes of the Elders

    66 cast bronze eyes inlaid from the east entrance by Judith & Daniel Caldwell

    Niimíípu (Nez Perce) culture teaches reverence to elders and departed ancestors, and a consciousness of their continued presence after death. The emphasis is shared with traditional cultures in many parts of the world and was the starting point for Judith Caldwell's conceptualizing the Eyes of the Elders on the floor of the Cultural Center. Since animals arrived before people, Niimíípu stories count them as elders and teachers, looking to them for the lessons of life.

    The installation begins just inside the East Entrance of the building, with a wall-mounted cast bronze root bag, patterned after a traditional Niimíípu design. The eye of Coyote, the trickster hero-villain of Niimíípu stories, emerges from the bag. Nearby, on the floor, a trail of 66 single eyes lead visitors down a ramp and around the perimeter of the great hall to the exterior door that leads to the Meditation Pavilion. 

    All of us, young and old, are somebody’s child, on a journey from birth to death. The Eyes of the Elders aims to represent this idea that our wise and venerated elders and ancestors are watching out for us and guiding us along the way. 

    Complete list of eyes, in order:

    • Root Bag (on wall)
    • Coyote (on wall)
    • Owl
    • Chief Joseph
    • Elson S. Floyd
    • Elk
    • Salmon
    • Martin Luther King Jr.
    • Eagle
    • Cesar Chavez
    • Edward S. Curtis
    • Frog
    • Tsagaglalal
    (“she who watches”)
    • Bear
    • Chief Joseph
    • Nelson Mandela

    • Harriet Tubman
    • Pine Squirrel
    • Wolf
    • Magpie
    • Ho Feng-Shan
    • Chief Joseph
    • Fox
    • Cougar
    • Martin Luther King Jr.
    • Mahatma Gandhi
    • Hummingbird
    • Abraham Lincoln
    • Cesar Chavez
    • Mother Teresa
    • Appaloosa
    • Frederick Douglass
    • Bison

    • Eleanor Roosevelt
    • Ella Baker
    • Elson S. Floyd
    • Owl
    • Eagle
    • Abraham Lincoln
    • Salmon
    • Elk
    • Turtle
    • Chief Joseph
    • Pine Squirrel
    • Eleanor Roosevelt
    • Tsagaglalal
    (“she who watches”)
    • Wolf
    • Harriet Tubman
    • Cesar Chavez

    • Hummingbird
    • Mother Teresa
    • Ho Feng-Shan
    • Frog
    • Bison
    • Mahatma Gandhi
    • Owl
    • Ella Baker
    • Elk
    • Bear
    • Chief Joseph
    • Salmon
    • Elson S. Floyd
    • Abraham Lincoln
    • Fox
    • Martin Luther King Jr.
    • Fredrick Douglass
    • Wolf

  • The Hesutin Waterfall

    The Hesutin Waterfall

    The Hesutin Waterfall

    Unique cast bronze by Judith & Daniel Caldwell

    The Hesutin Waterfall greets visitors to the main entrance of the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center. Designed in collaboration with GGLO Architects, the installation draws attention to the difficult legacy of land appropriation from Native populations. The large black circle on the wall represents the original Niimíípu (Nez Perce) homeland in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. The round opening in the wall above the water feature represents the reduction of land as a result of the Treaty of 1855 and the 6” circle at the top of the water feature represents the greatly reduced current reservation land from the subsequent Treaty of 1863. WSU and the Cultural Center itself are built on land originally inhabited by the Niimíípu. 

    The water feature is comprised of 39 unique bronze castings, welded and fitted together to form a 100” tall watercourse, flanked by bronze ‘basalt’ columns, and scaled by five endangered Lamprey fish. A coordinating unique cast bronze grating was created by the artists for the base of the water feature. 

  • Entrance Panels

    West entrance panel

    The Five Swallow Sisters

    West entrance flame cut steel panel by Judith and Daniel Caldwell in consultation with Nakia Williamson-Cloud

    East Entrance Panel

    Wéetespeme’wes (I am of this land)

    East entrance flame cut steel panel by Judith and Daniel Caldwell in consultation with Nakia Williamson-Cloud

  • Time Capsules

    Mary Jo, student regent and ASWSU president holding time capsules

    Time Capsules

    Four time capsules, each containing items and letters from students represented by the four ASWSU Cultural Committees, BSU, MEChA, APASC, and Ku-Ah-Mah are buried on the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center grounds. 

    Students from each group were asked to add items to the capsules that tied to WSU, had cultural significance and were relevant to the time. The capsules contain two letters, one on the impact that Elson S. Floyd had on the group and a second letter, authored by the leaders of each cultural organization, on the current state of the world and where they hope the world will be in 25 years when the capsule is opened.

    The time capsules will be opened in 2042 with the intention of another capsule being buried and opened 25 years later in 2067.