Native Village
Youth and Education news
January 1, 2011 Volume 2

IUPUI, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Sign First of Its Kind Agreement in Indiana
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Indian: IUPUI [Indiana University/Purdue University, Indianapolis] and the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians are joining efforts to develop educational and cultural programs for the Indian nation.

Pokagon Chairman Matt Wesaw and IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz signed a formal proclamation during a ceremony at IUPUI. Afterwards, Potawatomi leaders draped a special Pokagon blanket around the shoulders of the chancellor.

“This historic alliance with the Pokagon people will allow IUPUI to develop an American Indian office and an academic program that supports our students and enriches their knowledge about Native American cultures and contributions,” Bantz said.

The ceremony also marked the official opening of the American Indian Programs Office at IUPUI. AIP is an umbrella organization for Native American Studies, Native American Staff and Faculty Council, and Native American Student Alliance. It is also linked with the Native American Heritage Festival in Indianapolis and Native American programs in city and state government.

The Pokagon Band homeland includes six northern Indiana counties and four counties in southwestern Michigan. Its citizens are descended from the Potawatomi who have lived in that area for centuries.

The Pokagon Band is the only federally recognized tribe in Indiana.

Johnny P. Flynn, Director of the American Indian Programs, said: “The signing of the agreement marks the first time in 200 years that Native Americans and educators are coming together to plan the future of education for Native Americans in Indiana.”

Benefits under the agreement include:

An American Indian Programs administrator will be hired to gather student, staff and faculty data.  The administrator will also develop the American Indian Studies minor. His or her salary will be paid for by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi.

The Pokagon Band will also be involved in creating educational programs that meet the needs of its citizens and workforce.

IUPUI's unique relationship with a sovereign Indian nation can serve as an example to tribes and other universities across the country. According to Flynn, IUPUI may create a special distance education program for the Pokagon Band. It's also looking into a Native-centric studies programs through IUPUI’s Museum Studies Program. This would enable Pokagon students to learn about becoming Native American curators and enable student artists to gain expertise in their traditional art forms.

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