Jemison takes the helm as RIT’s newest Minett Professor

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Peter Jemison, a Native American member of the Seneca Nation of Indians, is teaching a course this winter through the College of Liberal Arts.

Peter Jemison, independent curator and artist and member of the Heron Clan and Seneca Nation of Indians, has been named RIT’s newest Frederick H. Minett Professor.

The part-time appointment runs through the academic year. As Minett Professor, Jemison will teach the winter quarter course New York Native Americans out of the College of Liberal Arts. The course concentrates on the Seneca Nation at the confluence of tradition and change and includes a visual history of the tribe, origins of the Seneca, the Great Law, sovereignty, war and its aftermath, treaties, land determination, internal conflict and economic development. The course is part of the sociology concentration and minor and part of the Native American Studies concentration.

After studying art education at Buffalo State College and the University of Siena in Italy, Jemison returned to the Cattaraugus Reservation to become the education director for the Seneca Nation of Indians. This return began Jemison’s lifelong-learning journey as a Longhouse man, following the traditional way of life of the Seneca.

Jemison has also spent time in New York City where he became gallery director for the American Indian Community House Gallery and Museum. There he curated 35 exhibitions of contemporary Native American art and traditional crafts.

Following his time in New York City, he relocated to upstate New York to become the historic site manager for the Ganondagan historic site.

Jemison’s art has been featured in several books about Native American art including I Stand in the Center of the Good by Lawrence Abbott and Native American Art by Penney and Longfish. He has completed commissioned fine-art prints for the Memorial Art Gallery, the Mashantucket Pequot Cultural Center in Connecticut and the University of Arizona at Tucson. Most recently, Jemison taught in the American studies department at SUNY Buffalo, and President Bush appointed him to a four-year term on the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to represent Native Americans and Native Hawaiians.

“The Minett Professorship at RIT continually showcases the most compelling voices of the Rochester business, arts and educational communities; this year will be no different with the appointment of artist, lecturer and advocate of Native American culture, Peter Jemison,” says Alfreda Brown, RIT’s interim chief diversity officer.

RIT’s Minett professorship brings distinguished Rochester-area minority professionals to the RIT campus to share their knowledge and experience with students and faculty. Past Minett professors include Reuben Davis, retired Supreme Court associate justice; Maurice Holmes, corporate vice president and chief engineer for Xerox Corp.; Walter Cooper, New York state regent; William Johnson, Rochester mayor; and Carlos Carballada, former president and chief executive officer of First National Bank of Rochester.