Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck

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In 1665, Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard University.

Cheeshahteaumuck was a member of the Wampanoag tribe in Martha's Vineyard. He and his classmate Joel Hiacoomes[1], also a Wampanoag, were taught on the Vineyard by Peter Folger, the maternal grandfather to Benjamin Franklin.[2] The two went on to attend Elijah Corlett's grammar school in Cambridge in around 1657.[1] In 1661[3] they both entered Harvard's Indian College.

Cheeshahteaumuck died of tuberculosis in Watertown, Massachusetts less than a year after graduation.[4][5][6]

Apart from Cheeshahteaumuck and Hiacoomes, at least two other Native American students attended the Indian College at this time. Eleazar died before graduating and John Wampus left to become a mariner. Hiacoomes was lost in a shipwreck a few months prior to graduation, while returning to Harvard from Martha's Vineyard. Cheeshahteaumuck is believed to have been the only Native American to have graduated from the Indian College during its years of operation. These first students studied in an educational system that emphasized Greek, Latin, and religious instruction.[4][6][7]

One document remains from Cheeshahteaumuck's time at Harvard that is purported to have been written by Cheeshahteaumuck himself.[8] Written entirely in Latin, this short letter contains references to Greek mythology, ancient philosophers, and Christian ideology. [9] While some consider this to be the first extant writing by a Native American on the continent,[10] of course, Native American writings exist in many places across the continent, just not in forms typically recognized by European cultures.

On December 16, 2010, a portrait of Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, commissioned by the Harvard Foundation, was unveiled in the University's famous Annenberg Hall.[11] A part of the Harvard Foundation Portraiture Project diversity initiative, it was painted by the alumnus Stephen E. Coit. He conducted careful historical research and consulted with members of the Wampanoag. Rev. Peter J. Gomes chaired the project and attended with Harvard President Drew Faust and members of the Harvard Native American Program to commemorate the day.[12]

Representation in other media[edit]

In 2011, the novel Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks included a version of Cheeshahteaumuck's time at Harvard.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Drew., Lopenzina, (2012). Red ink : native Americans picking up the pen in the colonial period. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 126. ISBN 9781438439792. OCLC 781628796. 
  2. ^ Drew., Lopenzina, (2012). Red ink : native Americans picking up the pen in the colonial period. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 126. ISBN 9781438439792. OCLC 781628796. 
  3. ^ Drew., Lopenzina, (2012). Red ink : native Americans picking up the pen in the colonial period. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 126. ISBN 9781438439792. OCLC 781628796. 
  4. ^ a b "Remembering Native Sons" Archived June 3, 2006, at the Wayback Machine., Harvard University Gazette, May 1, 1997.
  5. ^ "Harvard Honors First Native American Students" Archived December 23, 2005, at the Wayback Machine., Susan Peterson, Harvard University Gazette, May 8, 1997.
  6. ^ a b "The Ancient Proprietors: Wampanoags", Part I: Nantucket's First Peoples of Color, The Other Islanders, Frances Ruley Karttunen, Nantucket, Massachusetts: Nantucket Historical Association, 2002. Accessed on line October 22, 2007. This online book has also been issued in a print edition (New Bedford, Massachusetts: Spinner Publications, Inc., 2005, ISBN 0-932027-93-8.)
  7. ^ "Ceremony Honors Early Indian Students", Mass Moments (a newsletter of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities), May 3, 1997. Accessed on line October 22, 2007.
  8. ^ Drew., Lopenzina, (2012). Red ink : native Americans picking up the pen in the colonial period. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 128. ISBN 9781438439792. OCLC 781628796. 
  9. ^ Drew., Lopenzina, (2012). Red ink : native Americans picking up the pen in the colonial period. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 129. ISBN 9781438439792. OCLC 781628796. 
  10. ^ Drew., Lopenzina, (2012). Red ink : native Americans picking up the pen in the colonial period. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 132. ISBN 9781438439792. OCLC 781628796. 
  11. ^ "Wampanoag To Be Honored With Degree | News | The Harvard Crimson". www.thecrimson.com. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  12. ^ Native American Honored, Harvard University Gazette, December 17, 2010. Accessed online December 18, 2010
  13. ^ Staff (July–August 2011), "Enjoy the Summer's Hottest Read", AARP The Magazine, Washington, D.C., p. 10, ISSN 1541-9894 

Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck