At this year’s Commencement on May 26, Tiffany Smalley ’11 will become the first member of the Wampanoag tribe in more than three centuries to receive a Harvard degree, as described in an article in the Boston Globe. Her immediate predecessor is Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, A.B. 1665, protagonist of the new novel Caleb’s Crossing by Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks, RI ’06, (covered recently in Harvard Magazine).
Smalley, who hails from Martha’s Vineyard, participated in an archaeological dig in Harvard Yard on the site of the seventeenth-century Indian College, a missionary outreach effort to Native Americans and a site of Cheeshahteaumauk’s studies. At Commencement, Smalley will also accept a second diploma that Harvard will award posthumously to Cheeshahteaumauk’s classmate and fellow Wampanoag, Joel Iacoomes. Though he completed all requirements for his college degree, the unlucky Iacoomes perished just before the 1665 Commencement. The 346-year gap between completion of studies and receipt of diploma is likely to give Iacoomes a Harvard record that will stand for some time.