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Harvard Student Opportunity: Spring 2024 Internship in Indigenous Land/Food Sovereignty

December 7, 2023
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a forest view with variously sized boulders along the forest floor

Spring Remote Internship: Connecting Indigenous Community Health and Land History/Futures

Open to currently enrolled Harvard undergraduates and graduate students (including international students)


Mentored by: Cheryll Toney Holley, Harvard 2023-2024 Bullard Fellow and Sonksq (female chief) of the Hassanamisco Nipmuc Band

Additional mentors: Andrea Smith, sub-chief for Tribal Heath & Wellness, Hassanamisco Nipmuc Band; with support from Emily Johnson & Clarisse Hart, Harvard Forest

Stipend: $1,320 for undergraduates; $1,500 for graduate students

# of hours: 60 total (20 hours/month from Feb. 14 to May 14, 2024)

Public health data collected by Nipmuc tribal members in 2018 reveals that over 51% of Nipmuc families are affected by diabetes or heart disease. Both of these health outcomes are documented to have causal origins in diminished food and land sovereignty in Indigenous communities.

We seek a Harvard student intern – or pair of student interns – to:

  • Synthesize Nipmuc public health data and wider public health literature related to land/food sovereignty
    • DELIVERABLE: create a narrative with data visualizations / infographics – essentially a brief, digital report – for Nipmuc tribal leaders and community members
    • GOAL: help visibilize a pathway to stronger health outcomes through strengthened food and land sovereignty
  • Research the history of 3 land parcels in Western Massachusetts currently being returned to, or hoped to be returned to, the tribe through a land-back process
    • DELIVERABLE: create an interactive map for tribal members to explore the history of land use on the 3 parcels
    • GOAL: help build an understanding of the Indigenous and colonial history, and any potential environmental hazards or other important notes, towards informed reclamation of the sites

A successful candidate will possess some (though not necessarily all) of the skills and experiences below. 

  • Experience working with public health data from minoritized communities
  • Experience working with primary archival data, especially land data such as deeds
  • Independence in accomplishing work remotely (students will likely only meet weekly with their mentor)
  • Curiosity and patience when you encounter roadblocks
  • A commitment to supporting tribal sovereignty throughout the project

Full travel support and meals will be provided to interns who are interested in traveling to Harvard Forest (1.5 hours away from the main campus, by car) to for day-trips to meet Chief Holley in person 1-2 times during the spring semester.


(Photo by Cheryll Toney Holley)

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