Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Indian College Discovered?

Via the History News Network: archaeologists have discovered the probable location of Harvard's Indian College, the first school for Native Americans in British North America. The specific find was a trench containing brick, tile, and stone, likely the foundation of one of the school's walls. The trench also contained ceramic remains and some pieces of type from Massachusetts Bay's first printing press, also housed at the College - perhaps the same press used to print John Eliot's Wampanoag translation of the Bible.

As Harvard's own webpage on the Indian College makes clear, the institution was (like Dartmouth College a century later) a fundraising device designed to pry money out of the evangelizing New England Company. The principal residents of the brick College building were white students, and only a few of the seven Algonquian Indians who attended Harvard in the seventeenth century resided there. Most of these students, incidentally, came to bad ends: three died before graduating and one, John Sassamon, was murdered in 1675, setting off the chain of events that led to King Philip's War.

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