Cornell’s Akwe:kon melds learning with dorm living

Indian Country Today By Babette Herrmann, Story Published: Nov 10, 2009

Cornell University built their first Native-themed residence hall, Akwe:kon, nearly 20 years ago, in honor of the Iroquois Nation Mohawk people. From the architecture to the furniture, every element was planned to represent American Indian culture.

“…The building was erected in the shape of an eagle with its wings stretched north and south, symbolizing watchful protection.”

Today, of the 35 students living in the co-ed dormitory, half of them are American Indian. As a continuation of the American Indian culture studies on the campus, Cornell has established several programs for American Indian students on and off campus. There are annual powwows, smoke dances and other ceremonies. There is also a volunteer program that tutors Indian students at the Lafayette High School once a week.

This is an uplifting article that focuses on an American university that still helps American Indian students remain connected to their culture while learning new information, and creating new friendships.

Discussion Questions for Comprehension

Directions: Review any new vocabulary words from the article.

1. What is the name of the American Indian residence hall at Cornell?

2. Why was it built?

3. When was it built?

4. What shape is the building?

5. Who lives in the dormitory?

6. Discuss some of the activities The Ongwe Hall Council plans.

Category: Education