The institute’s namesake, Electa Quinney, was Wisconsin’s first school public school teacher and a member of Wisconsin’s Stockbridge-Munsee band of Mohicans. Trained in New York and Connecticut, Quinney came to Wisconsin 1827 following New York’s widespread American Indian removal. The year after her arrival, Quinney founded the state’s first school without an enrollment fee in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. She taught American Indian and white students, many of whom would not have been able to attend if school fees had been in place.
Electa Quinney married Daniel Adams, a Mohawk, who was a Methodist missionary to the Oneidas. Together, they moved from Wisconsin to Missouri where Adams was the pastor for a tribe of Senecas. Following his death, Quinney married a Cherokee newspaper editor and eventually returned to Stockbridge, Wisconsin, where she died in 1885.
The Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education, takes inspiration from Ms. Quinney. She saw education as a way of preparing young people to meet the challenges their communities faced. Today the challenges are different, but the need for educated people with the professional skills and knowledge to address the unique community needs and develop solutions is the same.