Joseph Williams // CC BY 2.0

Harvard University has hired its first tenured Native American studies professor following multiple calls for the school to offer formalized Native American studies as part of its curriculum, reported The Harvard Crimson

Philip J. Deloria started teaching in January of this year, transferring to Harvard from his former position in the American Studies department at the University of Michigan. Harvard History Department Chair Daniel L. Smail called Deloria “the leading — I was gonna say one of the leading, but he’s really the best — historian of Native Americans active today," in a statement to the Crimson.

Penn has hired multiple tenure-track Native American studies professors. In 2013, when the University hired Assistant Professor of Anthropology Margaret Bruchac, she was the third tenure-track Native American studies professor to be hired by Penn. 

Deloria is currently teaching a graduate seminar on Native American historiography, and will begin teaching an undergraduate introductory course on Native American studies in the fall 2018 semester.

Harvard student groups have been calling for the appointment of this position for years. Truman M. Burrage, the president of Native Americans of Harvard College, praised Deloria’s appointment, but also described it as an “overdue” first step in expanding the Native American presence and curriculum at the University. 

“This can’t be the end,” Shelly C. Lowe, the executive director of the Harvard University Native American Program, said to the Crimson, calling on Harvard to continue hiring faculty for a formalized Native American studies program.

If Harvard were to offer formal academic specialization in Native American studies in the near future, it would become the fourth Ivy League institution to do so, following Cornell, Dartmouth, and Penn. 

Penn’s curriculum committee voted unanimously in 2014 to offer a Native American and Indigenous Studies Minor following efforts for its establishment from the Undergraduate Assembly and other on-campus groups. Similar programs at Cornell and Dartmouth have their roots in the 1970s and 1980s.

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