As the first member of the Wampanoag Tribe ever to attend Harvard Law School, Samantha is beginning a new chapter in her peoples’ relationship with the school, whose history of colonialism and assimilation dates back to the 1600s. Founded with the intention to “educate the English and Indian youth of this country in knowledge and godliness,” Harvard’s legacy has long symbolized the injustices Native people have endured for centuries.
“(Harvard) stands as a relic of New England’s colonial framework, which pushed my community into the backdrop of our own homeland,” Samantha says. Yet a legal education from one of the nation’s top universities will provide Samantha with the means to potentially undo past injustices and protect the rights and privileges of her people. “None before me had the opportunity to fight with a legal education behind them, Samantha says. ”Instead, they relied on strangers to debate our past, present, and futures in the courtroom.”
Furthermore, she believes her education will open doors for other Native students and help to mend her tribe’s relationship with the university. “It means a step towards healing for my community and inspiring generations to follow,” she says.
The scholarship she received through the American Indian College Fund is helping Samantha dedicate herself fully to her studies so she can thrive in her career. “Kutaputush (thank you) so very much for this scholarship. Your generous support of my education has touched my heart in a way that words can hardly express. I always aspired to be a positive role model, but I never could have imagined how far I would come with the opportunities afforded to me by the support of my family, community, and people like you.”