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Native American and Indigenous Students

At Syracuse University, you’ll find a welcoming campus community and rich academic programs with faculty, staff and alumni who are invested in helping Indigenous students succeed—from admission through graduation and beyond. Discover a community that’s here to help you find your purpose, make an impact and be part of a global network that’s with you, wherever your course takes you.

A Place for Indigenous Students to Thrive

Our campus is just minutes from the heart of Haudenosaunee territory, and we are committed to empowering and supporting Indigenous students of any tribe or nation. From honoring our neighbors at Universitywide events to celebrating Native cultures everywhere, we foster an appreciation for Indigenous leadership, innovation and contributions.

Honoring Native Experience, Celebrating Native Culture

  • Indigenous Peoples Day and Native Heritage Month. We officially recognize these events with Indigenous films, lectures, comedians, social dances and other cultural festivities.
  • Land Acknowledgment Statement. All major University events begin with a statement honoring the valued partnership with our Haudenosaunee neighbors: “We acknowledge with respect the Onondaga Nation, Firekeepers of the Haudenosaunee, the Indigenous People on whose ancestral lands Syracuse University now stands.”
  • Haudenosaunee Flag. We proudly fly this flag alongside the U.S. flag across campus at the stadium, Hendricks Chapel, Manley Field House, the National Veterans Resource Center (NVRC), the College of Law and the Goldstein Student Center.
  • Seed Sovereignty Garden. In 2021, we dedicated a Three Sisters garden on campus that uses traditional methods of the Onondaga Nation Seed Keepers. This event was the culmination of a student-led effort to grow food sustainably while honoring thousands of years of Indigenous wisdom and ecological knowledge.

Academic Programs and Resources

Native American and Indigenous Studies Minor

This minor explores the lives of Indigenous peoples from religious, historical and political perspectives from the earliest cultures (extending back 11,000 years or more) to the present. You’ll work with the program director to personalize a course of study that reflects your interests and academic goals.

Certificate in Iroquois Linguistics

This 15-credit certificate program aims to revitalize and preserve the Iroquois languages for future generations. You’ll study linguistic principles and grammatical features unique to the Iroquois languages, exploring rich examples from all six Haudenosaunee languages.

Native American Research Resources

Syracuse University Libraries houses collections of books, journals, databases, government documents and other sources specifically focused on Indigenous studies.

Welcoming and Supportive Communities

Native Student Program

This program supports you during your transition to college life and throughout your entire undergraduate experience. It begins with a three-day orientation and continues with weekly gatherings for workshops and academic counseling. Participants also attend conferences and travel to museums and cultural sites to explore Indigenous history.

Indigenous Students at Syracuse (ISAS)

This student-run organization brings together Indigenous students, offering a sense of belonging for those on campus and educating the University community about Indigenous issues and concerns.

Although Syracuse is a huge university, it seemed small to me, and I felt like I had a family at Newhouse. That was the type of environment I needed.

—Jourdan Bennett-Begaye G’16

Indigenous Living Learning Community

You can choose to live in a learning community with other students who share your interests. Living learning communities are a great place to make friends, develop skills that boost academic achievement, and discover tools to balance your academics and social life.

Skä·noñh—Great Law of Peace Center

This heritage center near the shores of Onondaga Lake tells the story of the Native peoples of Central New York and their formative influence on the political and cultural identity of the U.S. You can become involved with planning and events for the center, which is a collaboration among the Onondaga Nation, Onondaga County, Onondaga Historical Association and local universities.

Indigenous Faculty and Staff

We’ve engaged a growing number of Native American faculty and staff across the University. Here are some of the people who can guide you on your journey:

Percy Abrams (Onondaga Nation, Eel Clan) is a professor who teaches the certificate program in Iroquois linguistics. He holds a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University at Buffalo and specializes in the morphology and phonology of the Iroquois languages.

Tammy Bluewolf-Kennedy (Oneida Nation, Wolf Clan) is an admissions counselor and Native American liaison who works closely with our Native Student Program.

Regina Jones (Oneida Nation, Turtle Clan) is the assistant director of the Native Student Program and can offer mentoring and support throughout your academic career.

Neal Powless (Onondaga Nation, Eel Clan) serves as University Ombuds, providing an informal, safe space for faculty, staff and graduate students to discuss issues confidentially.

Susanne Rios (Pima, Pueblo and Xicana) is a therapist at the Barnes Center at The Arch and can provide culturally appropriate mental health support.

Scholarships and Financial Support for Indigenous Students

We offer several scholarships and grants specifically for Indigenous students, making the University’s rich educational experiences available to those who qualify.

Indigenous Alumni

Ongwehonwe Alumni Association

Ongwehonwe, the Onondaga word for First Nation peoples, is also the name of Syracuse’s ever-growing Indigenous alumni group, with more than 600 members representing every school and college at the University. The association connects current students with Native American alumni who are part of the global Orange community. In 2020, the first dedicated Ongwehonwe Alumni Gathering was held as part of the University’s signature homecoming event, Orange Central.

Notable Alumni

Oren Lyons ’58, H’93, Turtle Clan Faithkeeper, Syracuse’s first Native graduate and a frequent lecturer at the United Nations

● Ann Drumheller ’89, special assistant for Native American initiatives at the Smithsonian Institution and the first Native woman to letter all four years in volleyball

● Stephanie Waterman, G’04, assistant professor at University of Rochester and the first Onondaga to earn a Ph.D. from Syracuse University

● Brett Bucktooth ’06, Syracuse University All-American lacrosse player, National Lacrosse League All-Star, and member of the Iroquois Nationals and Onondaga Redhawks lacrosse teams

● Michael Taylor G’05, visiting professor at Ithaca College and author of Contesting Constructed Indian-ness

● Robert Odawi Porter ’86, senior advisor and Native American expert, Dentons Law Firm

● Karla General L’10, attorney with the Indian Law Resource Center

● Sarah Moses ’06, G’10, staff writer for The Syracuse Post-Standard

● Leah Shenandoah ’06, singer, songwriter, jeweler and multimedia artist

● Amber Hill ’09, lacrosse player, first known Native American woman to play in the NCAA tournament

Contact

Request more information or contact Tammy Bluewolf-Kennedy, Admissions Counselor and Native American Liaison, Office of Admissions, 315.443.4844, tbluewol@syr.edu.