The American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program (AIISP) provides a unique combination of American Indian and Indigenous Studies (AIIS) courses, student leadership opportunities and an undergraduate residential experience at Akwe:kon, the first Native student residence hall in North America.

AIISP Statement of Solidarity with Grief and Anger expressed by Indigenous Communities regarding Discovery of the Graves of 215 Indigenous Children at Kamloops Indian Residential School

The students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program at Cornell University join with the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc People and Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island to honor and mourn the 215 lost Indigenous children whose bodies were found in a series of unmarked and undocumented graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. We offer our deepest condolences to the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, whose families have been most directly affected by this heartbreaking discovery. We also recognize that this is but one instance of a much larger pattern: massive numbers of undocumented deaths likely occurred at many, or even all, of the nearly 500 residential schools for Indigenous children funded and operated by the U.S. and Canadian governments between the mid 1800s to as late as 1996.

Almost every Indigenous person in North America can trace the devastating legacies of government-run boarding schools in their families. This includes our own Indigenous students, faculty, staff, and alumni. These English-only schools were established in an attempt to assimilate Indigenous children, in many instances forcibly taking children from their families to isolate them from their communities, languages, and traditions. Psychological, physical, and sexual abuse was rampant. Indigenous peoples across the continent today continue to deal with the tremendous legacy of trauma and grief caused by these colonial institutions.  

The disclosure about these lost children found buried at Kamloops has incited new feelings of outrage and grief throughout Indigenous communities and homes. We acknowledge the anger of Indigenous peoples at the pervasive colonialist system that inflicted so much damage on individuals, families, and communities. We particularly recognize the viciousness of targeting Indigenous youth and then burying them, neglected, undocumented, and without notifying their families, when they fell victim to this deliberate and cruel system. As our Indigenous students are graduating, returning home, or preparing for another year at Cornell University, we remain grateful that their families have entrusted us with their loved ones and we continue to work towards justice and accountability.

AIISP Events

Portrait of a man wearing traditional Cayuga headress.


Sachem Sam George is one of 10 Sachems (chiefs) for the Cayuga Nation, representing the Bear Clan. He was condoled in April 2005. Having grown up on Seneca Nation territory (Cattaraugus) and having learned Seneca language and customs, Sachem...
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Stop by to learn what courses AIISP is offering this upcoming fall, learn more about the AIIS minor, and see how AIISP can support your future endeavors!
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  • American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program
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Faculty members, staff and students are encouraged to read the full acknowledgement at the beginning of gatherings and events and include it in websites, course syllabi and other materials. A pronunciation guide can be found on the website of...
  • American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program
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AIISP Awards and Recognition 2021 Website

As many of you know, the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program typically holds an event in May to honor graduating students and other noteworthy achievements, and to present several awards for service to the Program and community.

I am sorry that we must celebrate virtually for the second year in a row. We can all hope that this is the last time we have to do so!

We hope that this resource will be a durable reminder of your accomplishments at Cornell.

(excerpt from Professor Kurt Jordan's welcome remarks)

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Explore the American Indian & Indigenous Studies Program