"The Wetu, a traditional Wampanoag home erected in Harvard Yard as a commemoration of the 360th anniversary of the Harvard Charter, has been vandalized and misused," Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds informed undergraduates in an e-mail sent yesterday. While most undergraduates agree that the Wetu damage disrespects those involved in its construction and, more generally, Native American students at Harvard, many are left wondering what exactly happened.
In order to set the record straight, we at FlyBy contacted Tiffany L. Smalley ’11, the president of Native Americans at Harvard College.
"The damage was not substantial, and most of it has been repaired," said Smalley. "The hearth—a decorative circle of rocks in the center of the Wetu—was scattered, holes were punched through the bark on the side of the Wetu, and a quahog shell donated by visiting artists disappeared," she added.
The damage was discovered on Saturday afternoon by Thomas S. Miller '11 and Tia M. Ray '12, according to Smalley.
The damaged materials belong to the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe and are on loan to Harvard, said Smalley, adding that "the Wetu was originally scheduled to be deconstructed today, but we are hoping to extend the timeframe—it's obviously not going down today."
This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:
CORRECTION: May 8, 2010
An earlier version of the May 3 FlyBy post "Wetu in the Yard Suffers Damage" incorrectly stated that the damage was discovered by Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Bettina Washington. In fact, the damage was found by Thomas S. Miller '11 and Tia M. Ray '12, according to Tiffany L. Smalley ’11, the president of Native Americans at Harvard College.