In fall 2019, Belen Benway ’21, a member of the Prairie Island Indian Community, was a student research assistant with Ted Gordon (visiting assistant professor of Integrations Curriculum at CSB/SJU) doing work funded by the Mellon Foundation’s Becoming Community grant.
She approached the archivists at Saint Benedict’s Monastery to ask if she could dig around to learn more about the community’s history with Native American boarding schools in the 19th and 20th centuries. “Here’s everything we have,” Gordon remembers them saying. “They said ‘We want to share. We want to learn.’ ”
Their work has done more than repatriating dozens of photos to family members in search of connection and closure. It has become the catalyst for action and conversation between CSB, the monastery and White Earth Nation.
Exploring hard topics, employing undergrad research, engaging in difficult conversations and recommending solutions. … These are the tools of academic inquiry that will help acknowledge our past and shape our future. And right now, Bennie students are leading that push.