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Dartmouth Returns Collection of Documents to Mohegan Tribe

May 4, 2022

Dartmouth College has returned a collection of papers written by an 18th-century Native American orator, writer and minister to the Mohegan Tribe, New Hampshire Public Radio reported.

Samson Occom, a member of the tribe, raised money in Europe in the 1760s for what he believed would be a college serving Native American students in Connecticut. But his teacher, Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, used the funds to found a New Hampshire institution that would ultimately become Dartmouth College.

Dartmouth officials handed over the documents—including sermons, diaries and letters—to tribe members in a repatriation ceremony last week. The writings are in English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew and what is thought to be one of the earliest examples of written Mohegan, according to Dartmouth experts.

Sarah Harris, vice chairwoman of the Tribal Council and a Dartmouth graduate, said tribe members have been asking Dartmouth leaders to more prominently acknowledge Occom’s role in the college’s origin story for decades.

“Hundreds of years of not telling Occom’s story has denied both Native and non-Native students and the larger community the truth of Dartmouth’s founding,” she said at the event.

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Sara Weissman

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