The American Indian Program (AIP) has its roots in a community outreach program that began in the 1920s with Dr. Earl Bates, an obstetric physician and Quaker activist who pressed New York State and the federal government to fulfill their Treaty obligations to the Iroquois Confederacy. Bates developed a dynamic and successful agriculture and home economics extension program grounded in respect for Native peoples and emphasizing community control of those programs.
Eventually these concepts were reborn through the efforts of Iroquois leaders, committed Cornell faculty and administrators, and Native students who formally established the American Indian Program in 1983. Today, as part of a land-grant institution with outreach commitments, the AIP is dedicated to working collaboratively with Native communities, and promoting community-based learning. Emphasizing cultural and environmental sustainability, we focus on the integration of traditional knowledge and western science, and have a special interest in the protection and management of trans-boundary waters. Students are involved in AIP outreach through internships and volunteer efforts.
The AIP provides its students opportunities to continue the circle of giving that is part of the principle of reciprocity at the heart of native cultures worldwide. Cornell University sits within the traditional homeland of the Cayuga Nation. To better understand and appreciate the Cayuga and the history of their homeland, AIP-affiliated students often join staff and faculty members and others from neighboring colleges and Universitites in "work days" at the Cayuga SHARE Farm. The activities include picking raspberries, apples, pressing cider, and enjoying a Barbeque/picnic and social dancing with citizens of the Cayuga Nation, These outreach efforts help promote and strengthen the growth of the current Cayuga land base.
Also, students affiliated with AIP can participate in activities such as the AIP Tutoring Program at LaFayette High School in LaFayette, New York. Cornell students travel once a week to tutor high school -aged Native students at the High School, where they serve not only as an academic resources for the students, but also as leaders, mentors, and friends.