Dartmouth to Partner with Tribal Nations

Two fundraising challenges will launch a pilot project that focuses on addressing systemic inequities facing  Native Americans.

Students and professor in a classroom

“This project will serve to expand and deepen the College’s founding commitment to the Native peoples of this nation.” -N. Bruce Duthu ’80

Dartmouth is establishing a $1 million fund to develop partnerships with Native and Indigenous Peoples addressing inequities that have hindered the prosperity of tribal nations for centuries, with a special emphasis on economic development, health care, and government relations.    

A Focus on Solutions

The Tribal Service and Solutions Project will enable teams of students, faculty, and alumni to partner with Native American communities and develop solutions to long-term challenges. Dartmouth undergraduates and recent graduates, advised by faculty mentors, will meld theory with real-world practice and develop leadership skills by working closely with Native American tribal leaders and alumni in the field. 

With three focus areas, teams will:  

  • Develop initiatives to incentivize economic development, economic mobility, and entrepreneurship.   
  • Pilot models of health care and create dynamic health systems that serve the needs and desires of Native American communities.   
  • Address issues and policies surrounding the power dynamic of the federal-tribal and tribal-state relationship.   

Two New Fundraising Challenges 

To date, more than $650,000 has been committed to the Tribal Service and Solutions Project. To secure the final $350,000 needed to launch the four-year pilot, two anonymous donors have issued a pair of fundraising challenges:  

  • 50 gifts at any level dedicated to this project from Native American or Indigenous members of the Dartmouth community will unlock a $250,000 donation  

  • The second donor will match gifts from all members of the Dartmouth community dollar-for-dollar, up to $100,000    

The deadline to participate in the two challenges is May 6, 2022, the beginning of Dartmouth's 50th anniversary celebration of Native American studies at Dartmouth.  

“The Tribal Service and Solutions Project will help foster critically important relationships with tribal nations by affording Dartmouth students with opportunities to engage as partners with tribal leaders in redressing some of the most pressing challenges in Indian Country,” says N. Bruce Duthu ’80, the Samson Occom Professor of Native American Studies. “This project will expand and deepen the College’s founding commitment to the Native Peoples of this nation.”  

If successful, the pilot project may lead to the establishment of a permanent tribal sovereignty institute with even broader reach.  

50 Years of Recommitment to Native American Students

Although Dartmouth was chartered in 1769 “for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land,” it wasn’t until 1972, through the leadership of President John Kemeny, that the College honored its founding purpose with the establishment of an academic program in Native American studies.

Only 19 Native Americans received degrees from Dartmouth during the College’s first 200 years; over the past 50 years, however, more than 1,000 Native Americans from over 200 tribes have graduated from Dartmouth. The program has been elevated to a full academic department—it is now the Department of Native American and Indigenous Studies, which reflects its increasingly global focus.  

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