Old University turns over new leaf with launch of Indigenous studies chair

Written by
A-dae Romero Briones ’03
March 18, 2021

In Nonprofit Quarterly, A-dae Romero Briones ’03 writes about the history of Native American students at Princeton, and the establishment of the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Endowed Chair of Indigenous Studies and fund by endowed by Peter Wendell ’72 and Lynn Wendell ’77 to support research, teaching, or programmatic support for enrolled students, relating to Indigenous groups.

Most endowed Indigenous studies chairs are found in states and locales with significant Indigenous populations. Princeton’s chair is unique in that is embedded in one of the nation’s oldest universities, in an area of the country that’s had one of the longest histories of colonization. Indigenous people know all too well the importance of focusing effort and attention on the eldest pillars when attempting to change a society. The endowed Indigenous studies chair does just that; it names Indigenous people as more than a colonized people, more than mere historical narratives, but as a present and existing people.

With this naming, the university and its faculty, alumni, and students — both Indigenous and non-Indigenous — now have the work of filling in the story between those two points. It is a story not just of the university, or of individual students and their families, but of the U.S. as a nation and our hopes for a more inclusive American future.

Read the rest of the article in Nonprofit Quarterly.