N. Bruce Duthu

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.

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.