Friday, October 14, 2022

New Exhibit: "Indigenizing an Institution"

On Monday, October 10, 2022, students belonging to the group Native Americans at Dartmouth (NAD) hosted a gathering on The Green in honor of Indigenous People's Day. Members of NAD distributed signs, read speeches, and presented poems to the 150+ individuals in attendance. The mood was somber, as students reflected on the historical oppression of Indigenous peoples as well as modern forms of violence enacted against their communities. However, the event was also celebratory, as members of NAD, or "NADs", emphasized the resilience of Indigenous peoples and their distinct cultural practices. 

The style of assembly was not unique - in fact, Native students have orchestrated numerous events with the objective of raising awareness for Indigenous issues over the decades. Specifically, the past 50 years have witnessed NADs utilize petitions, demonstrations, symposiums, and more to share their concerns with others and advocate for pan-Indian causes. Commonly, such events were intended to counteract pervasive and harmful imagery, language, or "traditions" on campus related to Native representation. in other instances, such as the protests against Dartmouth's controversial investment in Hydro-Quebec, the tenacity of NADs ultimately benefited others. 

Despite The College's foundational promise to educate Native youth, such affairs were neglected by the school for nearly 200 years, cultivating an environment that was hostile towards Indigenous peoples. By 1970, only nineteen Native students had graduated from Dartmouth, which likely contributed to the general disregard for Indigenous peoples and customs by others on campus. However, the re-dedication of the institution's commitment to instruct Native pupils occurred around this period, precipitating record numbers of Indigenous students matriculating at the college. In recent years, Indigenous voices (with the assistance of their allies) have been instrumental in producing positive change at Dartmouth, especially as it pertains to the Native community. 

Our Lathem Special Collections Fellow, Sydnie Ziegler '22, has an exhibit called "Indigenizing an Institution," which aims to showcase the actions and achievements of Indigenous student advocacy since the 70s. It will remain on display in the Rauner Library foyer from October 10th through the end of November (Native American Heritage Month).