10 March 2010
Indians and Harvard College
Today I added an impression behind Caleb and Joel of the Harvard College campus as it appeared in the mid 1700s, the earliest depiction I could find. Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but from the Indian perspective Harvard is actually situated in Wampanoag country, where the inhabitants had lived for approximately 10,000 years before English settlers arrived.
At Harvard College in the late 1600s, English and Indian students were housed together in order to facilitate the goal of language exchange. The English sought to learn Algonquian well enough to preach to the natives, and the Wampanoag presumably wanted to learn English well enough to negotiate with the newcomers.
After the four or five initial Indian students of the 1660-70s, the next Native American student to attend Harvard College was Benjamin Larnell of the Class of 1716. After Larnell died of a fever in 1714 there was a 256-year lull in Indian attendance at Harvard. Finally, in 1970, the American Indian Program was established and since then more than 800 Indians have earned Harvard degrees. Today there are more than 120 Indians on campus.