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At Chickahominy pow wow, William & Mary president pitches new tuition assistance

Adkins Rowe
Pamela D'Angelo
/
Chief Stephen Adkins with President Katherine Rowe after her announcement.

At the Chickahominy Tribe’s 70th Annual Fall Festival and Pow Wow, the President of William & Mary announced a new tuition initiative to help students most of whom have families earning less than $60,000 a year. But for Indigenous communities that once inhabited university lands here, is it enough?

About two years ago, the College of William & Mary joined other universities that have formally acknowledged the land they occupy was once inhabited by Indigenous Tribes in Virginia. Now, the university’s first female president, Katherine Rowe is giving all students eligible for Pell grants free tuition and fees at a minimum. "At minimum, that means we will assess need beyond that as well," she reinforced.

But Chickahominy Chief Stephen Adkins said there should be free tuition for all Indigenous people from the Tribes here, regardless of income. "There are many colleges and universities that I feel should be compelled to offer free tuition to its Indigenous citizens."

Adkins cited the damage done by Virginia's 1924 Racial Integrity Act that was designed to Indigenous people here. "When that happened, one would have thought that colleges and universities would have stood and said, 'look you can’t do this to our Indigenous citizens.' So, those universities let us down," Adkins said.

Today, many Chickahominy Tribal citizens are part of the vast William & Mary alumni association.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.