The University of New Hampshire’s College of Liberal Arts faculty voted unanimously yesterday in favor of a new minor in Native American and Indigenous Studies.
The minor will fall under the College of Liberal Arts, but those behind the program say it will be inter-disciplinary, with classes ranging from literature and anthropology to biology and sustainability.
“We already have a great deal of faculty scholarship and public engagement in this area as well as curricular offerings, and so when faculty brought forward the idea of a minor it made a lot of sense to do the curriculum review and deliberative work required to flesh out a proposal and bring it to a vote of the faculty,” said Michele Dillon, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
The Indigenous New Hampshire Collaborative Collective say they have been advocating for the program at UNH for three years. Members say UNH was enthusiastic about and receptive toward the new program, but they’re hoping for additional funding for resources – like more library books on indigenous studies – and to add indigenous faculty members to the college.
Dillon says there aren’t currently plans to hire new faculty, and more funding for resources will depend on student interest in the minor.
UNH senior Elizabeth Schwaner has been working with Indigenous New Hampshire to implement the minor.
“We’re lacking one element that we would want to have ideally for this minor, which would be indigenous perspectives from the students as well as the staff, but there are a lot of non-indigenous students that are interested in the minor,” Schwaner said.
There is no count on how many Indigenous students attend UNH, but the CDC estimates that there are fewer than 25,000 people who self-identify as Native American in New Hampshire.
Alix Martin is a member of the collective, and a faculty fellow in UNH’s anthropology department. She worked with professor Svetlana Peshkova on drafting the proposal to the College of Liberal Arts last spring.
“A lot of people don’t realize that they’re on indigenous land or don’t know the indigenous history of the area they’re from, and that’s a piece of the goal,” Martin said.
The collective says it’s also working with other schools, like Dartmouth College and the University of Vermont, to refine their existing programs, or add new ones.
Students at UNH will be able to enroll in classes within the minor starting this spring.