Five Colleges, Inc. awarded $2.5m grant for Native American and Indigenous studies

The four-year grant will further NAIS development

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Collegian File Photo

By Ana Pietrewicz, Assistant OpEd Editor

Five Colleges, Inc. has been awarded a $2.5 million grant to “enhance education and scholarships” in the field of Native American and Indigenous studies.

Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College and the University of Massachusetts received the four-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, according to a press release from UMass News and Media Relations. This grant is one of the largest given to the consortium in its 50-year history.

“We are honored to receive this funding from the Mellon Foundation,” said Executive Director of Five Colleges Sarah Pfatteicher in the press release. “This award represents the Mellon Foundation’s continued support for the consortium and the significant work our member campuses are doing to advance the humanities in service of society. Importantly, it also recognizes our efforts to build sustained, reciprocal relationships with Native American scholars and communities, and will support further efforts in this area.”

All of the Five College campuses are located in the Kwinitekw Valley, also known as the Connecticut River Valley. The region has long been a crossroads for Indigenous nations, and “continues to be a central gathering place for [NAIS] scholars, as well as for Native American and Indigenous leaders, artists, writers and activists,” according to the Five College consortium website.

“Overall, we expect the funding will help enhance and expand the NAIS community, to ensure that we can continue to develop new opportunities after the funding ends,” Kevin Kennedy, the director of strategic engagement for the Five College Consortium, said in an interview with the Collegian.

The Mellon grant establishes funds for an endeavor called “Gathering at the Crossroads: Building Native American and Indigenous Studies at the Five College Consortium” which will allow the Five Colleges to enhance teaching, learning and scholarship in the field of NAIS, as well as “to develop and establish a set of new academic pathways for students interested in Native American and Indigenous Studies,” according to the press release. It also provides funds for a variety of indigenous experts to participate in the effort, and will help establish new faculty, courses, course modules and advising structures to guide NAIS students. The project will begin this month.

Laura Furlan, an associate professor of English at UMass and chair of the Five Colleges NAIS program, said “students at UMass will benefit from this growth in NAIS in the Valley in a number of ways.”

Such benefits include, “An increased number of courses to take across the campuses through Five College Exchange, more NAIS-related programming on our campus and the others, more focused advising and student success programs for Native students and a stronger and more vital NAIS intellectual community that reaches beyond the Valley.”

Ana Pietrewicz is an assistant Op/Ed editor and can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @anapietrewicz.