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Dartmouth Trying to Live Up to Promise of Educating Native Youth

Native American students get a taste of college life at Dartmouth this week.
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A few hundred Native students are at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire this week learning about financial aid and setting academic goals, reports Vermont Public Radio.

Founded in 1769 “for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes,” Dartmouth hasn’t really lived up to its promise, says college historian Colin G. Calloway in The Indian History of an American Institution: Native Americans and Dartmouth.

But that is changing—Dartmouth holds an annual powwow, has a Native American Studies major and has a house where Native students can live.

RELATED: Native American Studies Celebrates 40 Years at Dartmouth College

This week’s program for Native students at Dartmouth is hosted by College Horizons, a national non-profit that brings Native students to elite college campuses from across the country.

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“Basically I wasn’t being given the information in high school through my college counselor where I would look at a school like Dartmouth and realize that I was not only a competitive applicant but that through financial aid initiatives offered here and at other schools and at peer institutions that I would be able to afford these institutions more than even perhaps the community college in my home town or the state institution that I would be looking at,” Hillary Abe, Dartmouth Class of 2008 explained to VPR. Hillary is a Native Hawaiian and a member of the Eagle Clan, and a filmmaker.

Dartmouth still have work to do though. One of the students attending the College Horizons week, Kapi’olani Laronal told VPR she was offended by something she saw in a Dartmouth display case from 1951.

“They have canes that the senior societies carry around but it had an Indian head on it. It was an Indian head cane and it was put in a display case,” she said.

Carmen Lopez, College Horizons director and a Dartmouth alum, thinks all students should be required to take at least one Native American Studies course.

“This is the history of America, this is the history of the United States,” she told VPR.

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