Onondaga Nation storyteller named RIT’s 30th Minett Professor

COURTESY OF ROCHESTER INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Rochester Institute of Technology appointed Perry Ground, an educator and storyteller from the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, as its Frederick H Minett Professor for 2021-22.  

Ground is the 30th person appointed to this position, established in 1991. He is the second Native American individual to hold the title, following G. Peter Jemison in 2007-08.  

Perry Ground, an educator and storyteller from the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, is the 2021-22 Frederick H. Minett Professor.

The Minett Professorship allows multicultural professionals to share their professional knowledge and experience with students, faculty and staff for one academic year. The Minett Professors Emeritus select a new professor each year, and the position is appointed by RIT President David Munson and Keith Jenkins, vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion.  

“The RIT community extends a warm welcome to Perry Ground as he joins us in this important role,” Jenkins said. “Our community must remember the RIT campus was built on the traditional territory of the Onöndowa'ga, one of the six nations that make up the sovereign Haudenosaunee Confederacy. His deep expertise in the Haudenosaunee people and culture will help RIT build richer relationships with the Native community and we look forward to his contributions as Minett Professor.” 

Ground uses traditional storytelling to promote understanding and appreciation of the history, culture and beliefs of the Haudenosaunee. His presentations and publications were featured by the National Museum of the American Indian, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Iroquois Indian Museum and at museums, parks, schools, universities and festivals throughout the country. 

This fall, Ground will work on several projects with classes and offer public lectures about topics related to Native American history and culture. He hopes to teach two classes in the spring: one centered on the Native people of New York taught through the Haudenosaunee worldview and a second on Native American storytelling, pulling perspectives from different tribes from across the country. 

“To be named Minett Professor for this year is an incredible honor,” Ground said. “It’s wonderful that RIT is bringing in various cultures from around the Greater Rochester area to campus to try to connect the campus community with the local cultural communities. Knowing that this is the homeland of the Haudenosaunee, it is to me definitely a step in the right direction and hopefully one of many more steps to connect RIT with the Native American community.”