Welcome to the American Indian Resource Center, located in the Department of Anthropology. Founded in 1998, with the encouragement of the late Thomasina E. Jordan, the mission of the American Indian Resource Center (AIRC) seeks to serve the Native community, scholars and students interested in American Indian culture and history, as well as the public at large. We conceive of the AIRC as an heir to the strong tradition of service fostered here at the College of William & Mary.
The education of American Indians was included in the original mandate for the establishment of the College of William & Mary. To this end, the Brafferton Indian School was funded by the income from rent from the "Brafferton" estate of English scientist Robert Boyle 1691. William & Mary's Brafferton building opened in 1723 and still stands today. It currently houses the offices of William & Mary's president and provost. Native boys, as young as eight years old, were sent to the Brafferton School for religious instruction and to learn to speak English so that they could serve as mediators for negotiations, cultural exchanges between their respective communities and the British. Documents indicate that Native communities from Virginia such as the Pamunkey, and Nansemond, sent boys to the school as well as tribes from the larger reaches of Britain's eighteenth-century Empire in North America, such as the Catawba, Delaware, and Wyandot. However, funding for the Brafferton was withdrawn during the Revolutionary War leading to the closure of the Indian School at the Brafferton. During the intervening years relationships with the Native communities who were historically linked to the College languished.
Since the founding of the AIRC we have sought to work in partnership with descendant communities and tribal members from Virginia and around the United States on topics of interest and importance to tribal members, students and faculty. Additionally, we are committed to the education of school children and the general public regarding the history and culture of Native peoples. We are actively involved in the development of educational materials and teacher training and we are pleased to draw on our extensive collection of historical and archaeological resources for our collaborative projects.
We thank all our Native partners, the Department of Anthropology, and the college administration for their years of dedicated support. We look forward to many more years of collaboration!