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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


March 9, 2002 - Issue 56


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Harvard Holds Warm Welcome for Native Americans

Historic Read House (shown here) is home for HUNAP.
Historic Read House is home for HUNAP.The ivy-covered walls of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts can seem intimidating to anyone at first glance. The bustling urban campus is filled with apparent scholars lost in the spirit of academic excellence and clearly focused on the goals ahead. It is an easy place for students to feel overwhelmed and even a bit alone. For Native American students, many of whom are far away from their homes and support systems for the first time, it can be even more challenging. The Harvard University Native American Program (HUNAP) combats these challenges by providing a warm and welcoming community for its students through many academic and social services.

Native American education is woven into the history of Harvard beginning with its Charter of 1650 calling for "the education of the English and Indian youth of this Country." Today at the University there are approximately 110 Native American students, representing some 40 tribes. The mission of HUNAP is to bring together Native American students and interested individuals from the Harvard community for the purpose of advancing the well-being of indigenous peoples through self-determination, academic achievement, and community service.

HUNAP’s dedicated and professional staff strives to facilitate student leadership, encourage interaction among Harvard's various Native American student groups, and help students cope with the many demands of their academic and personal lives by providing intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and personal support. HUNAP maintains a relationship with Native student groups and works to address needs and concerns of students. In addition, HUNAP collaborates with Native alumni in the recruitment of Native American students to sustain strong Native student presence and leadership throughout the university.

Morgan Rodman ’02, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, said he never considered Harvard before, but encouraging phone calls and letters from current Native students sparked his interest. "Ultimately, without the recruiters extra efforts and genuine concern to reach out and connect with prospective Native students, I cannot say with certainty that I would have enrolled at Harvard." Rodman also says that HUNAP and his involvement in the student organizations has helped in "providing a supportive environment for Native students and also gives companionship and guidance." HUNAP sponsors fellowships and visiting scholars to share experiences as members of academic and Native communities. These opportunities also nurture collaborative efforts among students and provide mentoring relationships between students, graduate and professional students, and faculty and alumni. HUNAP also directly supports courses focused on Native American issues that draw on the expertise of members of the HUNAP Faculty Advisory Board and the Visiting Senior Scholar. A number of Native student groups at Harvard University provide the opportunity to become involved in social and cultural activities of the community as well as in groups focusing on such topics as Law, Medicine, and Public Policy. HUNAP believes that students are the best advocates for educational opportunities at Harvard, and students are encouraged to take an active role in the Faculty Advisory Board and other decision making committees of HUNAP. As advocates for higher education, students in the Take Home Harvard recruitment initiative visit their home communities to conduct informational sessions at their former schools.

Tom Dapice, a Delaware/Cherokee student at the JFK School of Government, remarks, "Something I noticed early on when I came to Harvard was the relatively high number of American Indian students here and the quality of the school's Native American program. Becoming involved in the Indian community at Harvard has been a great experience. I've really enjoyed socializing with other Native students here, learning about different tribal cultures and participating in the various Native events that are offered. I only wish that more people knew about Harvard's Native community back in Oklahoma and other parts of the country. Although Oklahoma has a large Indian population, I don't recall seeing any information about Harvard's Native programs when I was in high school and applying for college. I hope to create more awareness for prospective Native students about what there educational options are."

Historic Read House is home for HUNAP. It provides Native students with a vibrant gathering place for cultural and intellectual exchange. Inside students have access to a lounge with networked computers, television/VCR, telephone services, fax machine, photocopier and a small library and archives. Many of our social events take place here, including potlucks, town meetings and guest speakers.

Although Harvard and the Boston area can be quite a change from a small-town or rural upbringing, there is a warm community family waiting for you. Dr. Ken Pepion, executive director and a member of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana, says, "We sincerely hope that you will consider Harvard as you explore undergraduate and graduate programs. With its diversity and academic distinction, Harvard is an excellent place to learn and grow."

If you or someone you know is interested in visiting the Harvard campus, or would like more information, please contact Lee Bitsoi, Program Coordinator, at 617-495-9058 or

You can also visit the website at

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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