May 01, 1997
University Gazette


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  Remembering Native Sons

Five Native Americans who attended Harvard 300 years ago will be remembered Saturday when a plaque bearing their names is unveiled in Harvard Yard.

The ceremony will take place near where the Indian College -- Harvard's first brick building, which housed the students -- stood until 1698. The plaque will be placed on Matthews Hall during the program, which begins at 9:30 a.m. President Neil L. Rudenstine will be speaking, along with Jeremy Knowles, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The Invocation will be given by Susan K. Power, Tribal Elder, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe; and addresses will be delivered by Beverly Wright, chairperson, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), and Ray Halbritter, Nation Representative, Oneida Indian Nation of New York. The event is open to the public.

The University is still governed by the 1650 Charter of Harvard College, which calls for "The education of the English and Indian youth of this Country." Today at the University there are some 120 Native American students, representing some 40 tribes.

Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck of the Wampanoag Tribe was the first American Indian to graduate from Harvard College, in 1665. (Less than a year after his graduation, Cheeshahteaumauk succumbed to tuberculosis.) Other early Native American students included Joel Iacoomes, who died in a shipwreck just prior to graduation, and Eleazar and Benjamin Larnell who died of illnesses before they could graduate. Another, John Wampus, left and became a mariner. These first students studied in a 17th-century educational system that emphasized Greek, Latin, and religious instruction.

The plaque will be placed by the Harvard University Native American Program (HUNAP), which was established in 1970. The program brings together Native American students and interested individuals from the Harvard community to advance the well-being of indigenous people through self-determination, academic achievement, and community service.

Following the ceremony, as part of ARTS FIRST weekend, is the Third Annual Harvard University Powwow featuring dancers and drummers in Sever Quad. Tribal leaders from across the country will attend the festivities. At 2:30 there will be a reading by Standing Rock Sioux author Susan Power '83, JD '86 (daughter of Susan K. Power), at the Widener Library Memorial Rotunda.

An exhibition, "A Circle in Time," on the early education of Native Americans at Harvard and in Massachusetts, is also on display at the Widener Library Rotunda through May 27.

For further information, contact Peter Golia, HUNAP at 495-9064, or visit the HUNAP Web site at:


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