Students gather on Indigenous Peoples' Day (Photo credit: Yale Native American Cultural Center).

The Native American Cultural Center at Yale

In order to help prospective F&ES students gain a better understanding of student life on the Yale campus, we’ve decided to launch a series introducing the bevvy of student centers at the college and university open to all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. This week, we outline the history and mission of the Native American Cultural Center (NACC).

Yale College graduated its first Native American student, Henry Roe Cloud of the Winnebago Tribe, in 1910. Since that time, the Native American presence has grown significantly on campus, and in 1989 the Association of Native Americans at Yale (ANAAY) was founded with the hopes of attracting more Native American professors and students to share their knowledge of their rich culture and history with the wider Yale audience. The NACC was founded soon after in 1993, and has since hosted national conferences and scholars to teach about Native issues, art, music, literature, law, and nature. The Native American community on campus is bigger than it has ever been, and the Yale College class of 2015 includes 40 Native American students, constituting the largest of any of the Ivies. The NACC works to build and maintain a sense of community between Native American students and Yale students at-large by hosting cultural events, such as the celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day this past October, and dinners and dances throughout the year.

The NACC works closely with other Native American groups on campus, including the Yale Chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), the ANAAY, the Blue Feather Drum Group, the Yale Native American Law Students Association, and the Undergraduate Native American Arts Council.

Yale hosts a total of four cultural houses, including the NACC, the Afro-American Cultural Center, the Asian American Cultural Center, and the Latino Cultural Center, all of which encourage a sense of cultural identity and education. In addition to cultural centers, Yale also supports religious life for over 30 different and diverse religions, LGBTQ activism, community, and education, the Yale Women’s Center, and several political groups on campus.