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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Sharing a Statement of Support for Indigenous Students

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Posted on: June 18, 2021

We, the Indigenous students, faculty, staff, and allies grieve alongside the Indigenous peoples who have suffered at the hands of governmental forced assimilation schemes. The recent news detailing the discovery of the bodies of 215 Indigenous children buried at the Kamloops Residential school within Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation homelands has shined a light on this dark and brutal era of Canadian and US history. Perhaps equally as tragic is that this news was not surprising to many Indigenous North Americans who have long mourned the loss of generations of Native children to such schools. Many of these schools had graveyards next to them for the burial of those who died of abuse, neglect, malnourishment, and despair. The 215 children’s bodies recovered recently represent the horrifying legacy of just one such institution. We can only imagine the enormity of this tragedy when we multiply it by the scores of residential or boarding schools set up to assimilate Indigenous children by alienating them from their lands, languages, cultures, and families. We join with all others who wish to acknowledge these past wrongs and condemn them as stains on our nation’s history.

We recognize the bitter legacy these schools have had among Indigenous peoples and the fact that it has tarnished the idea of institutional education for generations of Native people. As a university that seeks to serve and support students of all backgrounds, Syracuse recognizes the unique challenges facing Indigenous students and their families regarding higher education. We therefore pledge to support our Indigenous students by acknowledging the crimes of the past and the legacies of trauma that they left in Native communities. It is the duty of every educational institution to assure families and communities that we deeply respect Indigenous cultures and that we recognize that their trust must be earned by our thoughtful support of their young people who come here to gain an education that reflects their needs and aspirations.

To learn more about this devastating history, please visit The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition based out of Minnesota and Canada’s National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

  • Native American and Indigenous Studies Program
  • Professor Scott Manning Stevens (Mohawk Nation), Director, Native American and Indigenous Studies Program
  • Indigenous Students at Syracuse
  • Ongwehonwe Alumni Association
  • Haudenosaunee and Indigenous Alumni Representatives
  • Skä·noñh—Great Law of Peace Center
  • Office of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Tammy Bluewolf-Kennedy (Oneida Nation), Native American Liaison
  • Assistant Professor Danika Medak-Saltzman (Turtle Mountain Chippewa)
  • Adjunct Professor Hayley Marama Cavino (Māori, Ngāti Whitikaupeka, Ngāti Pūkenga), PhD
  • Associate Professor Phil Arnold, Chair, Department of Religion
  • Assistant Professor Melissa Chipman (Cherokee Nation)
  • Danielle Smith (Onondaga Nation), LMSW & SU Alum
  • Ionah Scully (Michel First Nation), PhD Student
  • Maris Jacobs (Mohawk Nation), SU Alum
  • Native Student Program
  • Regina Jones (Oneida Nation), Assistant Director, Native Student Program, Office of Multicultural Affairs
  • James K. Duah-Agyeman, PhD, Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Intercultural Collective
  • Percy Abrams (Onondaga Nation), Native American Studies, Certificate of Iroquois Linguistics
  • Barnes Center at The Arch staff