Emory, College of the Muscogee Nation Partner for $2.4M Grant

The Mellon Foundation grant will support the College of the Muscogee Nation's transition to a four-year college and expand its Mvskoke language certificate program.
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  • The partnership began in 2021 after Emory sought a land acknowledgement since it was built on Muscogee (Creek) Nation land.
  • The grant will support CMN's transition to a four-year institution.
  • The Mvskoke language master-apprentice program will have nine cohorts and be 15 weeks of daily practice.

Mvskoke language scholars at the College of the Muscogee Nation (CMN) in Okmulgee,Oklahoma, will have the chance to practice with a master speaker of the language, thanks to a grant from the Mellon Foundation.

Emory University in Atlanta will partner with the federally recognized tribal college to support Native American and Indigenous studies through the $2.4 million grant. The joint initiative in Native and Indigenous Studies is the only one of its kind in the nation between a tribal college and a private research university.

According to Emory and CMN, the three-year grant from the Mellon Foundation will expand CMN's Mvskoke language teaching certificate program and support the college's transition from a two-year to a four-year institution.

"This outstanding award will support innovative models for collaborative research and teaching and will forge enduring relationships between Emory, the Muscogee Nation and our broader communities," said Carla Freeman, interim dean of Emory's College of Arts and Sciences. "I am grateful to the Mellon Foundation for the recognition and support for this vital work that will expand and preserve critical knowledge of our nation's history and the lives and contributions of Indigenous peoples."

The grant will fund a master-apprentice quality to the language program for nine cohorts at CMN. The cohorts will have one master language speaker/teacher per four students for 15 weeks of daily learning.

The partnership between the two colleges came about after Emory launched a land acknowledgement initiative in 2021. Emory was built on the ancestral homelands of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

The university sought guidance and collaboration from the Nation, which led it to CMN.

The partnership created a land acknowledgment, an Indigenous Studies minor at Emory, a bachelor's degree in Native American Studies at CMN, and the master-apprentice Mvskoke language certificate program.

"The Mellon Foundation award is a huge acknowledgement of the healing work that has been taking place between Emory University, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and the College of the Muscogee Nation," said CMN President Monte Randall. "As we work together to create collaborative spaces on our combined campuses using Mvskoke language and culture, we are effectively determining a pathway for Native people to heal from the trauma of dispossession and assimilation."

Emory is also creating an "Indigeneity Hub" to house new faculty and programs in language, literature, history, and the arts. It also intends to construct a physical and literal language path on Emory's Atlanta and Oxford campuses.