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School of Business

History of Haskell’s Business Department

Haskell was opened in 1884 as the United States Indian Industrial Training School, located at Lawrence, Kansas. In 1890, the Secretary of the Interior named the school in honor of Dudley C. Haskell, representative of the Second Congressional District of Kansas and it became known as the Haskell Institute, a name it would carry until 1970. In 1970, the focus of Haskell Institute shifted from primarily vocational education to include associate degrees and was re-named Haskell Indian Junior College. The first two-year degrees in various disciplines were offered. In 1992, the National Haskell Board of Regents adopted a resolution to further expand the scope of education by transitioning to a university-system which offered baccalaureate degrees. By 1995, the name was changed to Haskell Indian Nations University, recognize the changing role of Haskell in Indian Country and the direction of the school in this expansion toward conferring four-year degrees.

Historical documents show that Haskell Institute offered training in trades such as tailoring, wagon-making, blacksmithing, harness-making, painting, shoe-making and farming for boys. Training for girls included cooking, sewing, and homemaking. In addition to training, students were expected to work in one of the various industries that operated to maintain the school, go to elementary school and attend church (Arnes and Dale).

Within ten years, the curriculum at Haskell Institute expanded from a primary or elementary education to academic training beyond grade school. In 1895, the commercial department, today called business, opened with five typewriters. It is believed that the first touch-typing classes in Kansas were taught at Haskell. For over 100 years, Haskell has had an enduring dedication to teaching business related curriculum to Native American Students from all over the United States.

Official documents show that the commercial department was established in 1896 with courses such as stenography, typewriting, penmanship, commercial law, arithmetic, bookkeeping, and business correspondence. By 1907, the business department was a two-year program which expanded to include classes in English, shorthand theory and dictation, geography, elements of banking, business practice, office practice, and penmanship. In the early years of the commercial department the overarching tenet was to provide a vocational education which would prepare Native youth for the workforce.

As stated, Haskell was not intended to be a business school which produced “finished” accountants, secretaries, stenographers, or bookkeepers, but rather as a preparatory school of industrial training. However, by 1915, the commercial department provided a three-year course of study and again expanded class offerings from the two-year program to include adding machine practice, banking, civil service, filing and indexing, debating and parliamentary law, and rapid calculation. Vocational training in commercial or business related fields would continue at Haskell in the decades that followed.

Eventually, the commercial department morphed into the business department and the objective shifted from vocational education to include academic degrees. When Haskell Institute changed its name to Haskell Indian Junior College in 1970, two-year Associate of Art degrees were offered with business emphases. Over the next three decades, courses of studies in the two-year business program included emphases in business administration, accounting, tribal management, tribal reality and land management, and computer information systems.

In the fall of 1998, the School of Business was granted approval by the Higher Learning Commission to begin offering a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Originally designed to offer concentrations in management, tribal management and computer information systems (CIS), the degree was intended to offer culturally relevant curriculum for future Native American business leaders. The CIS concentration was phased out in 2005 and today, the School of Business offers emphases in either management or tribal management.

Early Location of the School of Business
In 1899, a girl’s dormitory was built and named Winona Hall after the Sioux tradition of naming a female, first-born child Winona. After it was completed, the first-floor reading room at Winona was the location of the Commercial Department until 1906.*

Records indicate that the commercial department was moved to Sequoyah Hall sometime after being housed in Winona. One of the original three buildings erected in 1884, Sequoyah had additions built onto the first five-room building over the years. In 1957 the original building was condemned and at that time, Sequoyah housed the Commercial Division as well as the library, the principal’s office, the high school and the Bureau’s Film and Publications Division. Sequoyah was rebuilt in 1961 and housed the commercial department again from 1965 to 1972.*

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