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Museum of Oxford Digital Exhibitions

People arriving

Teddy H_Oronhyatekha.jpg

Photo credit: Deseronto Archives

This photograph is of Oronhyatekha (‘Burning Sky’ or ‘Burning Cloud’) (1841-1907), who is also known by his baptismal name Peter Martin. He was the first indigenous scholar to attend the University of Oxford. Oronhyatekha matriculated at St Edmund Hall in 1862 after allegedly receiving words of encouragement from the Prince of Wales, whom he had welcomed to Canada in a speech on behalf of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy. He left Oxford shortly after his arrival to protest charges brought against him by Abraham Nelles (1805–1884), an Anglican missionary to the Six Nations Reserve. Oronhyatekha's letters suggest that Nelles' opposition was based on his belief that Oronhyatekha's study at Oxford would pose a threat to his own position of influence in the Six Nations society at the Grand River.

The Oxford and Empire Project commissioned a plaque to commemorate Oronhyatekha in 2019.