Haskell Indian Nations University

Haskell Indian Nations University is a federally operated[1] tribal university[2] in Lawrence, Kansas. Founded in 1884 as a residential boarding school for American Indian children,[3] the school has developed as a North Central Association-accredited university that offers both associate and baccalaureate degrees.[4] The college was founded to serve members of federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States.

Haskell Indian Nations University
Haskell Indian Nations University logo.png
Former names
United States Indian Industrial Training School (1884–87)
Haskell Institute (1887–1970)
Haskell Indian Junior College (1970–93)
TypePublic tribal land-grant university
Parent institution
Haskell Board of Regents
Academic affiliations
Location, ,
United States
ColorsPurple and Gold    
NicknameFighting Indians
Sports8 varsity teams
View of Haskell campus looking Northwest
View of Haskell campus looking Northwest

Enrollment at the campus is nearly 1,000 students per semester, representing approximately 140 Tribal nations and Alaska Native communities.[5] Haskell is funded directly by the Bureau of Indian Education as a U.S. Trust Responsibility[6] to American Indian Tribes. While it does not charge tuition, students are responsible for paying yearly fees.[7]

Twelve campus buildings have been designated as U.S. National Historic Landmarks. Haskell is home to the Haskell Cultural Center and Museum,[8] the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame,[9] the Indian Leader, the oldest American Indian student newspaper in the country,[10] and numerous student clubs and organizations.[11] Faculty and students built the Haskell Medicine Wheel Earthwork in 1992, and the Haskell-Baker Wetlands are important for migrating birds. The renowned Rinehart Collection is housed in the Haskell Cultural Center. Numerous sculptures and murals are located throughout the campus. Haskell also is a member of the American Council on Education, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the Higher Learning Commission, and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.[12]

The university hosts cultural and academic events that attract visitors (both American Indian and non-Indian) from across the country and abroad. Such events include the annual Haskell Indian Art Market,[13] the Stories-n-Motion Film Festival,[14] and the Haskell Commencement & Pow-Wow.[15] These public events are held along with numerous educational conferences, workshops, and presentations.


Students at Haskell Institute, 1908. Hiawatha Hall, the oldest building still on campus, can be seen in the background on the far left.

The history of Haskell Indian Nations University reflects both U.S. Indian policy and self-determination efforts by American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Haskell was founded during an era when the federal government believed that Native Americans needed to assimilate into the majority culture in order to survive. To do this, the US government took Native American children from their families and sent them to Native American boarding schools to be educated.[16] In the late 19th century, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, in Pennsylvania, was seen by many as the epitome of such a school, and so when the United States Congress decreed in 1882 that three new boarding schools should be made in Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma (a plan that would cost $150,000), it was the Carlisle school that served as the model for these soon-to-be-constructed institutions, including Haskell. When Haskell opened in 1884, it went by the name United States Indian Industrial Training School.[17] According to many source, living conditions during the 1880s and 1890s were bad, and students were often physically punished if they failed to follow the rules of the institute.[18]

The school was named after Dudley C. Haskell, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the 2nd district of Kansas.

During the close of the 19th century, according to the university, the early trades for boys included tailoring, wagon making, blacksmithing, harness making, painting, shoe making, and farming, reflecting skills needed in their rural home environments. Girls studied cooking, sewing and homemaking. Most of the students' food was produced on the Haskell farm, and students were expected to work at the school.[5] In 1887, the school changed its name to Haskell Institute in honor or Dudley Haskell, the U.S. Representative from Kansas's 2nd district responsible for the school being located in Lawrence. Under a semi-military system, students wore uniforms, marched to classes and exercised regularly. A few years later, in 1889, Charles T. Meserve was appointed the fifth superintendent in Haskell's five-year history. His discharge of many employees (including the principal teacher) brought criticism from the president of the National Education Association, and his harsh treatment of the students caused them to send four protesting petitions to Washington. A Special Indian Agent, appointed to investigate the incident, whitewashed the whole situation.[19]

By the onset of the 20th century, Haskell had begun to evolve. During this time, after the school applied for and received accreditation as a Kansas high school in 1927, it became famous for its football teams.[20] During the 1960s, the civil rights movement encouraged many at the school to take the reins and reconfigure the school's pedagogical approach to better serve Indian country and Alaska Native communities.[3] In 1965, Haskell graduated its last high school class,[20] and two years later, the school became Haskell Indian Junior College.[20] In the late 1980s, planning began to develop the institution as a bachelor-degree granting university.[21] In 1993, the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Ada Deer, approved the aforementioned plan, and the institution was once again renamed Haskell Indian Nations University.[21] Haskell offered its first four-year baccalaureate degree program in elementary teacher education.[22] Within a few years, Haskell had developed its own, specialized bachelor's degree program in American Indian Studies;[23] Business Administration and Environmental Sciences degree programs soon followed.[24] At the turn of the 21st century, Haskell had become a Tribal-based university with a curriculum serving general Native American and Alaska Native goals. Today, Haskell's alumni work in numerous areas to serve Indian country and Alaska Native communities.


Haskell Institute
Haskell's Tecumseh Hall (2018)
LocationLawrence, Kansas
Coordinates38°56′23″N 95°13′58″W / 38.93972°N 95.23278°W / 38.93972; -95.23278Coordinates: 38°56′23″N 95°13′58″W / 38.93972°N 95.23278°W / 38.93972; -95.23278
NRHP reference No.66000342
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 15, 1966[25]
Designated NHLDJuly 4, 1961[26]
The small bandstand gazebo located on the Haskell Indian Nations University (2018). It was constructed in 1908 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Haskell campus has 12 buildings that have been designated as U.S. National Historic Landmarks. In addition to its historic architecture, Haskell is recognized for its collection of public sculptures, murals, photographs, and paintings.[27] Examples include the well-known sculpture, Comrade in Mourning, by Allan Houser.

The Haskell-Baker Wetlands span approximately 640 acres (260 ha) on the south side of the Haskell campus. These wetlands are home to 243 species of birds, 21 species of fish, 22 species of reptiles, and 26 species of plants. This area serves as a feeding and breeding ground for the migratory birds that breed in Canada and migrate to Mexico and South America. The Northern Crawfish Frog is an endangered species and its critical habitat is the wetlands.[28]

Blalock HallEdit

Constructed in 1978, Blalock Hall was named in honor of Margaret Blalock, Chippewa, a Haskell alumna, and long-time employee at the college, who was committed to serving the students at Haskell.[29] It is a residential hall for freshman (first year) men and male students transferring from other colleges and universities.[30]

Hiawatha HallEdit

Hiawatha Hall (2017)

Originally constructed in 1898 and dedicated on March 12, 1899,[31] Hiawatha Hall was named after the historic Onondaga leader of the same name. The hall was built by the United Methodist Church to serve as a campus chapel (although it has also served as a general auditorium and as a girl's gym at various times in the school's history),[32][33] and today it is the oldest building still standing on the Haskell campus.[31][32][34] Hiawatha Hall is currently owned by the federal government and has been closed for decades because the government has not allocated money to pay for necessary repairs—despite the building being on the National Historic Landmarks list.[35]

Osceola and Keokuk HallsEdit

Osceola and Keokuk Halls are collectively known as "O-K Hall." Constructed in 1884, Osceola and Keokuk served as dormitories for men and women, respectively. Osceola was a famous Seminole warrior, whose name means "Rising Sun." Keokuk, a Sac and Fox whose name means "Watchful Fox," was not a hereditary chief, but recognized for his skillful leadership, force of character, and brilliant oratory.[29] O-K Hall is currently a residential hall for both women and men.[30]

Pocahontas HallEdit

Pocahontas Hall was built in 1931 and was named after the daughter of Powhatan, paramount chief of the Powhatan confederacy. She married English colonist John Rolfe, and they were ancestors to many descendants of First Families of Virginia.[29] It serves as a residential hall for freshman women and female students transferring from other colleges and universities.[30]

Pontiac HallEdit

Built in 1934, Pontiac Hall was named after an Ottawa chief. It is located immediately south of the main quadrangle.[32]

Powhatan HallEdit

Powhatan Hall was constructed in 1932 and named after the paramount chief of the Powhatan Confederacy, made up of 30 Algonquian-speaking tribes in coastal Virginia. Originally used for classrooms, it has been adapted as a residential hall,[29] housing Student Residential Assistants (SRS).[30]

Roe Cloud HallEdit

Completed in 1997, Roe Cloud Hall was named after Dr. Henry Roe Cloud, a member of the Winnebago Nation. He was the first American Indian superintendent of the Haskell Institute, serving from 1933 to 1935. Dr. Roe Cloud later served in the presidential administrations of Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was a spokesman for American Indian issues and education throughout his life.[29] It is a residential hall for both men and women.[30]

Sequoyah HallEdit

Sequoyah Hall was built in 1961 and named for Sequoyah, the Cherokee who developed a syllabary writing system for the Cherokee language in the early 19th century; this was the first known independent development of a writing system. It lies on the eastern edge of the main quadrangle area.[32]

Tecumseh HallEdit

Built in 1915 as a gymnasium, Tecumseh Hall was named after the Shawnee chief who led an effort to repulse the European-American settlers from Indian territory west of the Appalachian Mountains. It houses the Campus Shoppe, offices of the Student Senate, Student Activities, and the Indian Leader (the campus newspaper).[32]

Winona HallEdit

Originally constructed in 1897, Winona Hall was rebuilt in 1962. The name Winona in Lakota tradition is for daughters who are the first-born child of the family. Winona Hall currently is a co-ed honors residential hall,[29] serving both women and men.[30]

Museums and librariesEdit

Haskell is home to the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame, which recognizes noted athletes such as John Levi, Jim Thorpe, Moses Yellow Hair, and Billy Mills.

The Haskell Cultural Center and Museum provides exhibits of interest about indigenous history. Its archives include collections on Haskell and aspects of Native American history.

Tommaney Library provides a range of academic research resources in print, online and digital form.

Haskell Medicine Wheel EarthworkEdit

The Haskell Medicine Wheel Earthwork is located south of the campus. It was designed by Haskell professors, students, crop artist Stan Herd, and tribal elders, and dedicated in 1992 as a response to the 500th commemoration of the "Columbian Legacy".

According to the Haskell Catalog, the medicine wheel earthwork

symbolizes the scope and richness of indigenous cultures, from the beginning of humankind to the present. The circle is symbolic of the perpetual and sacredness of the spirituality of native peoples. The spokes are the four directions. The circle marks the astrological locations of the Summer and Winter solstice and represent the death, rebirth, balance and healing in Mother Earth. The bear claw represents the strength needed for the survival of indigenous people. The thunderbird located to the east represents the spiritual traditions of tribal people and points to the sacred circle and sacred fire contained within the Medicine Wheel Teachings.[36]

A replica of the medicine wheel is carved in the tile at the Haskell Cultural Center and Museum as a way of balancing the campus (with a medicine wheel on the north and south ends of campus).[37]


The University is one of 37 members[38] of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, an organization of Tribal colleges and universities.


The main sign to Haskell Indian Nations University, located along 23rd Street (2018).

After earning an associate degree, many students transfer to the University of Kansas, other colleges, or join the workforce. Haskell offers four baccalaureate degree programs and four associate degrees in numerous subjects. The university received a #13 ranking on the 2010 "Top 50 Dropout Factory" list from Washington Monthly in their College Guide, with a graduation rate of 9%.[39]

Associate degree programsEdit

Haskell offers associate of arts (AA) degrees in a variety of fields, including: Communication Studies, Liberal Arts, Media Communication, Para Professional Education, and Social Work. The school also offers associate of science (AS) degrees in: Community Health, Natural Sciences, and Recreation Fitness Management.[40]

Bachelor programsEdit

The school also offers the four following bachelor programs:[12]

Indigenous and American Indian Studies (BA)Edit

This program provides an integrated foundation of interdisciplinary knowledge and the practical skills needed to contribute to the development of Indigenous American Indian and Alaska Native communities and nations. The program is designed to prepare students for graduate or professional schools, or to enter the workplace after graduation.[41]

Business Administration (BS)Edit

The School of Business offers the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with emphases in management or tribal management. The management track emphasizes traditional academic study of contemporary management practices and theories common to the management of human, financial, technical, natural, and other resources. The Tribal Management track explores contemporary and historical issues that particularly affect management of tribal governments and enterprises.[42]

Elementary Teacher Education (BS)Edit

Education majors complete a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education; they must pass the Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) and Elementary Education exam to be eligible to apply for Kansas provisional licensure to teach kindergarten through the sixth grade. Other states may have differing requirements.[43]

Environmental Sciences (BS)Edit

This program provides a broad-based background to prepare students for graduate school or a career in environmental or biological fields. Courses offered include Biology, Ecology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography, Natural Resources, and Environmental Sciences.[44] It is intended to add substance to indigenous concerns about sustainability.

Student lifeEdit

More than 20 student organizations and clubs on campus[11] provide students with chances to become involved in campus life and activities related to the larger community.


Haskell (HINU) teams are known as the Fighting Indians and their team colors are purple, gold and white. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) competing as an Independent in all sports. Before July 2015, CCC competed in the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference (MCAC). Men's sports include basketball, cross country, football, golf, track & field, and cheerleading; women's sports include basketball, cross country, softball, track & field, volleyball, and cheerleading. The university has club sports in baseball and boxing.

Haskell had one of the best college football teams in the nation from 1900 to 1930.[45] Due to funding shortfalls, the football program was suspended beginning for the 2015 season.[46]

Notable peopleEdit


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External linksEdit