The Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, a Congregational minister from Connecticut, founded Dartmouth College in 1769. He had earlier established Moor's Charity School in Lebanon, Connecticut.
In seeking to expand his school into a college, Wheelock relocated his educational enterprise to Hanover, in the Royal Province of New Hampshire. The move from Connecticut followed a lengthy and sometimes frustrating effort to find resources and secure a charter.
Samson Occom, a Mohegan Indian and one of Wheelock's first students, was instrumental in raising substantial funds for the College. The Royal Governor of New Hampshire, John Wentworth, provided the land upon which Dartmouth would be built and on December 13, 1769, conveyed the charter from King George III establishing the College. That charter created a college "for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land ... and also of English Youth and any others."
During the first 200 years of its existence, however, Dartmouth fell far short of its educational goal and a mere 19 Native Americans graduated from the College. This situation changed dramatically when John G. Kemeny became the 13th president of Dartmouth College in 1970. In his inaugural address, he pledged to redress the historical lack of opportunities for Native Americans in higher education. In recommitting Dartmouth to its founding purpose, John Kemeny established a Native American Program at the College and directed the Admissions Office to begin actively recruiting Indian students for the very first time.
In the 48 years that have passed since former President Kemeny's historical address, Dartmouth's commitment to Indian education has remained strong. In this brief time, nearly 700 Native Americans from over 200 different tribes have attended Dartmouth, more than at all the other Ivy League institutions combined.