When Dartmouth was founded on December 13, 1769, its charter created a college “for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land ... and also of English Youth and any others.” But this central tenet of the College’s charter went largely unfilled for 200 years, as Dartmouth counted only 20 Native American students among its graduates prior to 1970.
When Dartmouth’s 13th president, John G. Kemeny, took office in March 1970, he vowed to rededicate the institution to this mission. Following a period of recruitment, Dartmouth welcomed 15 Native American students that fall. Also, a group of students voiced the need for an academic program dedicated solely to the study of Native American literature, culture, and history. So a committee, co-chaired by President Emeritus James E. Wright, then an assistant professor of history, was formed to look into the creation of a Native American Studies (NAS) program.
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