As current Native students of Purdue University, we firmly believe that the creation of a Native American student center will collectively contribute to Native student success, Purdue's mission to enrich the student and cultural dynamics, and most critical, students will have the capacity to become lead candidates in contributing to Tribal needs and cultivating the notion of Tribal sovereignty.
-- Purdue University Native American graduate students Kimberle Davis, Jeremy Garcia, Hollie Kulago, Aleeah Livengood, and Valerie Shirley (Spring 2006)
Established in spring 2007 through student and campus advocacy, the Native American Educational and Cultural Center (NAECC) joined the Black Cultural Center and Latino Cultural Center on campus. The NAECC was created to develop new generations of educated Native students who will make positive contributions in their tribal communities and to educate non-Natives who will appreciate Indigenous cultures, histories, and traditions. The foundation of the NAECC is credited to Native graduate students and Native and non-Native faculty and staff who collaborated to form the Tecumseh Project.
In the spirit of the great Shawnee leader, Tecumseh, and his vision of a coalition of Native people that control their own destiny, the Tecumseh Project was developed through grass-roots effort by Purdue students, faculty and staff to create a community of Native scholars at Purdue University. This initiative focused on building partnerships between Purdue University and Native communities as well as Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). The mission of the Tecumseh Project was to assist graduate students in developing research projects on Native lands and within their tribal communities.
The doors of the NAECC opened in spring 2007. The Tecumseh Project was the driving force for university-wide Native American initiatives such as the following:
- The creation of the Sloan Indigenous Graduate Program targeted to Native American graduate students.
- The creation of the Tecumseh Seminar Speaker Series, designed to highlight research of Native American scholars at Purdue University and across the U.S.
- The introduction of the Eastern Band Cherokee Visiting Scholars Partnership Program