When Tiffany L. Smalley ’11 receives her diploma at the Commencement ceremony on May 26, she will become the first Wampanoag Indian to graduate from Harvard College since 1665.
During her four years at Harvard, Smalley, a government concentrator with a secondary in ethnic studies, was active in raising awareness of the Native American culture on campus.
She served as co-director of a project that built a wetu—a traditional Wampanoag home—in Harvard Yard. The wetu was constructed near the site of Harvard’s Indian College, which was founded in 1655 to fulfill a statement in Harvard’s Charter of 1650 that called for “the education of the English & Indian Youth of this Country in knowledge and godliness.” The Indian College offered the same classes as the College, but did not charge its students for tuition or housing.
The last Wampanoag Indian to graduate from Harvard was Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, who graduated from the Harvard Indian College in 1665.
Smalley, however, will not be the only Wampanoag Indian to receive a diploma at this year’s Commencement exercises.
Joel Iacoomes, a member of the Wampanoag tribe who died in a shipwreck just before his graduation from the Indian College in 1665, will be honored with a special posthumous degree.
“With the presentation of this degree, we also recognize some of the commitments that were fundamental to the founding of Harvard: a commitment to a diversity of students, a commitment to the communities in which the College was founded, and a commitment to the power of education to transform lives,” Harvard President Drew G. Faust said in an article in the Harvard Gazette.
The incoming freshman class at Harvard is reported to be 1.6 percent Native American.
—Staff writer Jane Seo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.