Rochester Institute of Technology is entering into a research-and-education partnership with the Ganondagan State Historic Site, a museum and resource center promoting the culture and history of tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy. The effort seeks to enhance opportunities for Native American students and promote the benefits of indigenous technologies. The two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding during a ceremony June 7 at RIT.
“RIT is committed to expanding educational opportunities for Native Americans and all RIT students, while also promoting the rich history and culture of the Iroquois Nations,” notes Jeremy Haefner, RIT provost. “This collaboration with Ganondagan will allow RIT students and faculty greater access to research opportunities in native science and technology and will also assist Ganondagan in expanding its educational and cultural awareness efforts throughout the region.”
“Understanding Native American technologies are an increasingly important component in creating sustainable environments,” notes Jason Younker, associate professor of anthropology at RIT and member of the Coquille Tribe. “This partnership will be an excellent opportunity for RIT students, faculty and communities to interact within a cultural landscape and explore indigenous solutions in a host of applications.”
The collaboration will also promote RIT’s Native American Future Stewards Program, which offers academic and social support to Native Americans looking to attend college.
In addition to these activities, RIT President Bill Destler has formed a Native American Advisory Council including leaders from the Iroquois Tribes and government officials from the state and local level. The council will assist RIT in increasing opportunities for Native American students and expanding partnership opportunities between the university and New York’s Native American communities.
“Across the nation, Native Americans have one of the lowest college graduation rates of any racial or ethnic group, yet here at RIT we graduate almost all of our scholars in the Future Stewards program,” Destler says. “Through the advisory council, the Future Stewards initiative and efforts such as our Ganondagan partnership, RIT is working to improve educational opportunities and ultimately the quality of life for Native Americans both here in Rochester and throughout the country.”