Our History

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)


When the doors first opened in March 2007, the Native American Educational and Cultural Center (NAECC) was the first cultural center in the state of Indiana dedicated to supporting Indigenous students and since then, we continue to celebrate unprecedented success.

  • The NAECC is recognized nationally in the areas of recruitment and retention of Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian graduate students through the success of the Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership (SIGP) program. In the fall 2022, SIGP will recognize the 50th Indigenous Purdue student who will graduate with an advance degree in STEM discipline.
  • Purdue Indigenous alumni hold leadership positions within tribal nations and serve as faculty in tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), minority serving institutions (MSIs), and R1 institutions across the U.S.

We extended our gratitude to students, faculty, staff, and community members who were part of the Tecumseh Project, the NAECC’s founding initiative.


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 TCUs and 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 Tecumseh Project was the driving force behind the following university-wide Native American initiatives: 

  • Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership Program targeted to Native American graduate students
  • Tecumseh Seminar Speaker Series, designed to highlight research of Native American scholars at Purdue University and across the U.S.
  • Eastern Band Cherokee Visiting Scholars Partnership Program, a year-long program featuring Cherokee elders, scholars, and artist who spent a week-long residency at Purdue to share their knowledge in Cherokee history, languages, and artwork. 

The NAECC was originally located in South Campus Courts on Harrison Street and at the time, it was the third cultural center on campus joining the Black Cultural Center and the Latino Cultural Center. The NAECC is under the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in the Office of the Provost and in 2016, the NAECC moved to the central part of campus at the intersection of University Street and Fifth Street. The Center tripled in size and expanded services where it continues to serve the academic, cultural, and social needs of Purdue students.


NAECC Timeline 

2006 Formation of the Tecumseh Project
March 2007 NAECC established in South Campus Courts location
July 2007 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation awards funding to establish the Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership (SIGP) Program
July 2009  Felica Ahasteen-Bryant, hired as NAECC Director
September 2009 NAECC establishes Eastern Band Cherokee Visiting Scholars Program in partnership with Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
January 2010 NAECC moved under the Division of Diversity and Inclusion with the Office of the Provost
March 2010 Purdue American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) student organization hosts AISES Regional Conference for Region VI
October 2010 Purdue AISES received “Professional and Chapter Award” at the AISES 2010 National Conference
April 2011 Purdue Native American Student Association (NASA) received “Outstanding Program Award” from Student Activities Office
March 2012  Purdue AISES hosts AISES Regional Conference for Region VI
September 2013 Purdue AISES hosts “GeoScience Day: Connecting with Mother Earth” college visitation program for prospective students with funding awarded from AISES National Office
November 2013 Ahasteen-Bryant receives “AISES Chapter Advisor of the Year” at the AISES 2013 National Conference
June 2014 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation renews funding for SIGP program
July 2014  Native American Indigenous Studies Minor established in the College of Liberal Arts
April 2015 Ahasteen-Bryant receives “Outstanding Advisor of the Year” from the Purdue’s Office of the Dean of Students
November 2015 Funding awarded for the “Four Directions: Building a Foundation for Native Scholars Tecumseh Post-Doctoral Fellowship” through the Office of the Provost’s Diversity Transformation Award (DTA)
April 2016 Funding awarded for the “Tribal Immersion Program” through the Office of the Provost’s Directors Diversity Transformation Award Program (DDTAP)
August 2016 NAECC moved to a new location, intersection of University Street and Fifth Street
March 2017 NAECC celebrates 10th anniversary
March 2017 NAECC's launches "Tribal Immersion Program" with spring break trip to visit the Eastern Band Cherokee in North Carolina
July 2017 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation renews funding for SIGP program
October 2017 NAECC hosts Big Ten Native American Student Conference
August 2017 Terese Mailhot (Seabird Island Band-First Nation) and Dr. Victor Maqque (Quecha) begin their first semester as the inaugural Tecumseh Post-Doc Fellows
March 2020 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation renews funding for SIGP Program
March 2022 NAECC celebrates 15th anniversary
Summer 2022 NAECC "Three Sister Garden" established


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