2023 marks the 300th anniversary of the construction of the Brafferton, built in 1723 to house the Indian School at William & Mary. Prompted by this call to remembrance, the Brafferton Initiative endeavors to position Native history and presence as core elements of the university identity, consistent with the prominence of the Brafferton building in our Historic Campus landscape and Native education in our 1693 Charter and founding story. The Brafferton Initiative envisions ongoing work that generates new knowledge, expands understanding and belonging, and cultivates relationships that are thoughtful, sustainable, and reciprocal.
The Brafferton Initiative seeks to share the unique story of the Brafferton Indian School by grappling honestly with its complex and nuanced history and the role of William & Mary in Indigenous and European interactions on the contested colonial landscape of the 18th century and beyond. Emphasizing a commitment to Native agency and tribal sovereignty, we seek to enhance relationships with local tribal governments and build the university infrastructure required to engage with and learn from tribal communities.