Colby Builds Native American Connections


By Gerry Boyle '78

The connection between Colby and Native American communities and issues continues to grow.

For the third consecutive year, Colby students spent spring break visiting five Native American schools in northern and eastern Maine in conjunction with a program that also includes Bates and Bowdoin students. The program, which also includes summer visits to campuses by selected Native American high school students, is intended to raise the aspirations of Native American students and familiarize the college students with Native American culture.

Among the nine Native American applicants for Colby’s Class of 2014 were two Maine students who visited the campus in past years, according to Janice
Kassman, special assistant to the president and overseer of the program for Colby.

Kassman was honored by the Penobscot Nation in December for efforts to build the partnership between the Maine tribes and the three colleges. In May Kassman and her counterparts at Bates and Bowdoin will make a presentation on the Wabanaki-Bates-Bowdoin-Colby program at the national conference of the National American Indian Studies Association in Tucson, Ariz.

The College’s awareness of national Native American issues was raised in November when Tonya Gonnella Frichner, a member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, spoke on campus.

Frichner was brought to Colby through the efforts of Emily Pavelle ’10, an officer of the Four Winds Alliance, a campus organization focused on Native American students and issues. Pavelle, who was an intern in Gonnella Frichner’s office, said there is more awareness on campus of the Native American communities in Maine and of the importance of Native American culture. “I think there’s a lot of progress being made,” she said.

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  • On April 29, 2010, Dan Sexton wrote:
    I am very pleased to see efforts to bring Native American high school students to Maine college campuses and the visits by Colby students to native communities. Wonderful news and Long overdue.