Bruce Duthu ’80 on Promoting Social Justice

This Focus on Faculty Q&A is one in a ongoing series of interviews exploring what keeps Dartmouth professors busy inside—and outside—the classroom.

As a teenager from a Houma family in Dulac, La., Bruce Duthu ’80 had never heard of Dartmouth College. Then an alumnus came to town and pushed him to apply. Duthu made excuses—his native Cajun French was only supplemented by “Bugs Bunny” English, he was more inclined to the priesthood, and the reality: “We didn’t have the money for the application fee.” So the alum (Jim Bopp ’66) sent him a check. Today, the Samson Occom Professor and chair of Native American studies makes no excuses for his views on government schizophrenia, the challenges of parenting, and his take on a certain Washington football team’s name.

Offering Native American Studies in New Mexico

Dartmouth’s Native American Studies program will offer an off-campus program in Santa Fe, N.M., beginning the fall of 2015, reports the Valley News. N. Bruce Duthu ’80, Samson Occom Professor of Native American Studies and chair of the program, tells the newspaper that the new program will focus on Native American art, tribal law, and government.

“I think it’s going to be another form of connection to native communities,” Duthu tells the newspaper.

A subscription is needed to read the full story, published 7/11/14 by the Valley News.

Dartmouth Invites Native American Students to Campus

Native American high school students are getting acquainted with college life, and with Dartmouth in particular, during this year’s weeklong College Horizons program, reports VPR’s Charlotte Albright. The program, part of a nation-wide effort to improve tribal members’ access to higher education, is helping the students learn about financial aid and setting academic goals, Albright notes.

“A native song from Hawaii spontaneously erupted at an afternoon workshop for high school students shopping for college. Native American Studies Professor N. Bruce Duthu touted the value of a challenging, multi-faceted education for ambitious young people who want to solve pressing problems in their tribes,” she reports.

“‘The Liberal Arts Education. Schools like Dartmouth—that’s what we do. That’s what we teach. You get a bit of knowledge in all of these areas so you can see the interconnection of all of these fields,’ Duthu told the students.”

Duthu is the chair of the Native American Studies Program and the Samson Occom Professor of Native American Studies at Dartmouth. This year’s College Horizons program ran from June 28 through July 3.

Dartmouth Faculty In the Classroom and Beyond

This is the third in a three-part series about professors and their work. Here’s a look at part one and part two.

Melanie Benson Taylor
Associate Professor of Native American Studies

I’m currently writing a book called Faulkner’s Doom, which revisits the entire canon of this American literary giant to reassess the centrality of indigenous tropes in his world and work. Like many influential American authors, Faulkner doesn’t portray Native peoples as “real” Indians—and my work is not designed to indict him for that, or even to set the record straight about what “real” Mississippi Chickasaws were like. Instead, I’m interested in figuring out why writers like Faulkner (and Hemingway, Cather, even Toni Morrison) return so often to Native American themes.

40th Anniversary Celebration Wraps Up With NAS Symposium

Dartmouth will host a group of distinguished academic and tribal scholars and elders for two panel discussions next week as part of a symposium on the “Collaborative Research in the Study of Native American Cultures.” The symposium serves as the final event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the College’s Native American Studies Program.

“To showcase some of the best collaborative research in ethnography, archaeology, and the study of oral traditions and hear from several of its outstanding practitioners, our two-day symposium brings together Native and non-Native scholars and their collaborators,” says Sergei Kan, professor of anthropology and of Native American studies, and the symposium’s main organizer.

Professor Builds Bridges Across Disciplines and Cultures

Growing up the son of working class parents outside of Detroit, Professor Nick Reo says he didn’t envision a career in academia. In fact, he had little idea of what he wanted to do after high school.

“It was mow lawns, wash dishes, or go to school,” says Reo.

He chose the latter. After starting at two junior colleges, he couldn’t get enough. He went on to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of Michigan, and a PhD from Michigan State University.

“My wife likes to remind me that I’ve come from being a junior college student to an Ivy League professor,” Reo says with a smile.

A nontraditional route seems to suit the young assistant professor. Just last year, Reo became one of the first Dartmouth professors to hold a joint appointment in the Native American Studies Program and the Environmental Studies Program. With the dual appointment, it seems natural that one of the first papers he’s written at Dartmouth takes an interdisciplinary approach.

The Treaty of Box Elder (Oxford University Press)

In a blog published by Oxford University Press, Colin G. Calloway, the John Kimball, Jr. 1943 Professor of History and a professor of Native American Studies, writes about the Treaty of Box Elder. July 30, 2013, marks the 150th anniversary of the treaty between the Northwestern Shoshones and the United States, Calloway notes.

Calloway, whose most recent book is Pen and Ink Witchcraft: Treaties and Treaty Making in American Indian History, says the Box Elder Treaty is rarely written about, but repercussions from it are still felt today.

Read the full story, published 7/30/13 by Oxford University Press.

40 Years of Native American Studies at Dartmouth

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.

Panel Features Distinguished Native American Writers

As Associate Professor Melanie Benson Taylor was helping line up speakers for a Native American studies event in April, she had a realization.

“I noticed how many of the speakers are authors on my syllabus for my spring term course,” says Benson Taylor, who teaches Native American literature this term. “It’s amazing. The impact that will have on students is extraordinary.”

As part of the 40th anniversary of the Native American Studies Program at Dartmouth, four Native American writers and a scholar of Native writing will take part in a panel discussion next week. Linda Hogan, Helen Hoy, Stephen Graham Jones, Thomas King, and David Treuer will participate in a discussion titled, “Telling Lives: Native American Writing in the 21st Century.” The panel, free and open to the public, begins at 4 p.m. on April 5 in Moore Hall’s Filene Auditorium. There will be a book signing afterward.

Vera Palmer (2001-2002)

Vera Palmer (2001-2002) - (Tuscarora/Iroquois), completed her dissertation on the Iroquois Condolence ceremonies, titled: "Bringing Kateri Home: Restoring a Cultural Narrative of an Iroquoian Saint." Vera has remained at Dartmouth and is now a Senior Lecturer, teaching 5 literature-focused Native American Studies courses including an introductory course and an advanced seminar.