Associate Professor Brooke Hansen is passionate about her work with the Cayuga: “The Cayuga are the indigenous people of this area so we have an obligation as members of an educational institution to learn about and respect the land on which our college sits and the cultures which were displaced so we could be here.”
Hansen, a cultural and medical anthropologist with specialties in contemporary Native American culture, among other specialties, says her main interest is medical pluralism and how cultures such as our own have incorporated healing traditions from all over the world.
“The Cayuga have faced so many injustices over the last 200 years,” explains Hansen about what drives her passion, “from genocidal campaigns ordered by George Washington (Sullivan-Clinton Campaign of 1779), to illegal annexation of their last bit of land by New York State, to forced assimilation in boarding schools (Thomas Indian School and others), to continued racism and discrimination by local residents in the Cayuga Lake area. The work of the Cayuga to revitalize and hang onto some of the foundations of their culture and move forward in the 21st century has much to teach us all on the IC campus.”
She is a member of SHARE (Strengthening Haudenosaunee American Relations through Education), a grassroots, community-based group made up of local citizens and anthropologists. In 2001, SHARE purchased 70 acres of organic land in the Cayuga land claim area to repatriate back to the Cayuga people. The land was transferred the traditional council of the Cayuga Nation of New York, members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.
Hansen is proud that she and Professor Jack Rossen are able to share their knowledge and passion with students at Ithaca College.
“The Ithaca College Department of Anthropology and Native American Studies Program (a free standing program with a minor) are unique because of the approaches we take in learning about and working with local Native American,” says Hansen.
"Our credo is collaboration, outreach, and activism, not academic objectification. We have worked with the Cayuga Nation on repatriating land back to them so they can return the homeland--a project that has touched hundreds of Ithaca College students over the last 10 years, as they have been instrumental as interns and volunteers at the Cayuga SHARE Farm.
We continue to have close relationships with the local Haudenosaunee nations making sure that Ithaca College can be a partner in supporting the cultural survival of our Native American neighbors. We are also working on developing a scholarship program to extend a hand of invitation to Haudenosaunee students wanting to attend Ithaca College.”
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