Benchmarking Land-grant University Institutional Practices

Kase Wheatley

Geography PhD student 

June 2023 


This work was supported by the UC Davis Reimagining the Land-Grant University Grand Challenge. Over the course of Winter and Spring Quarters 2023, I worked with Dr. Beth Rose Middleton, UC Davis Professor of Native American Studies, to investigate the range of actions that various universities, primarily land-grant universities (LGUs), have taken to address their land grab histories and on-going settler colonial presence. Our approach to this work entailed investigating three different tiers: 

  1. Selected California LGUs (Berkeley, Davis, Riverside) 
  2. LGUs which received California Indigenous lands as part of the 1862 Morrill Land-grant Act (~30 LGUs) 
  3. Other LGUs and public universities which were identified as highlighting “better practices” 

This report contains a snapshot of the universities I was able to learn about through dialogue with students, staff, and faculty at these various institutions and their publicly available websites. It is crucial to note that many of the universities included in this report have enacted these better practices without the support of their campus administrators. Many of these practices are severely underfunded and require almost herculean efforts by faculty, staff, and students to maintain.


Using the Land-grab universities database from High Country News, I identified the thirty-three LGUs which received expropriated California Indigenous lands as part of the 1862 Morrill Act. Of these LGUs, twenty-nine were 1862 LGUs—the historically/predominately white institutions—and four were 1890 LGUs (HBCUs): South Carolina State University, Kentucky State University, Virginia State University, and Alcorn State University in Mississippi.

For this effort, I reached out to different groups of administration, staff, and faculty members depending on the specific university. Some LGUs had very clear groups or individuals to reach out to based on internet searches related to land grabs and land acknowledgements. While for other LGUs, it was much more difficult to identify a point of contact.

Groups and individual positions that I contacted included:

  • Faculty and staff of Native American, American Indian, or Indigenous studies programs, minors, student centers, and/or associated centers/institutes
  • DEI and NAGPRA staff
  • Anthropology and Geography faculty
  • Faculty and Staff who had hosted Land Grab U webinars
  • Tribal Liaison/Community officers
  • Other faculty, staff, and students who are dedicated to this work
What is included and what is not

The data below includes only public facing activities and programs. Not included are mentions of sensitive activities such as processes of land rematriation, ancestor return, or informal Indigenous advisory councils. Some or all of these activities were on-going at many of the universities. However, some of those interviewed expressed reticence to share these activities publicly, as they either did not have permission, talks were on-going/still in negotiation, and/or the political climate of the State was antagonistic to these actions. Depending on the campus and the State in which it is located, many of the aforementioned activities are incredibly controversial or actively occurring without the support of the university administration. Finally, in the universities profiled below, a greater number of programs listed under any one university does not necessarily correlate with a more inviting space for Native students or deeper relationships with Native communities.


Broadly, it is clear that the majority of the efforts to Indigenize universities, and/or support Native students and communities, have been initiated by staff, faculty, and students not by upper-level administrators. Several contacts expressed their view that progress was made without support from upper administration and sometimes in opposition to administrators’ wishes. Generally, these efforts far predate the 2020 Land-grab universities report, which documented the settler colonial origins of LGUs. Specifically, the report showed the Tribes from which lands were dispossessed and the money raised for university endowments through the sale or leasing of these lands.

Map by Margaet Pearce for High Country News (used with permission)


In the wake of the 2020 Land-grab universities report and the police killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others, there are examples of upper-level administrators taking actions and directing funding to support truth and reconciliation and/or DEI efforts. Often, this began with protests by students, staff, and faculty which led administrators to establish committees to investigate histories of racism and/or settler colonial dispossession. Reports were then published which led to a variety of follow-up efforts. However, not all of these reports included recommendations. For some of the interviewees with whom I spoke, these reports felt more performative and less about action.

Land Acknowledgement Statements

Though often seen as only a first step and lacking substance, official university land acknowledgement statements do not exist at many LGUs. Those with whom I interviewed, attributed this to the political climates of their State’s legislatures and positions of their university boards. Within many of these same LGUs, land acknowledgement statements may appear on the websites of particular programs or centers, but these are often not approved by the administration. 

Within the LGUs that do have land acknowledgement statements, very few actively name the Tribes from whom land was dispossessed and sold to establish their endowments via the Morrill Act of 1862 (Oregon State University is an example of an LGU that does a broader land acknowledgement).

Tuition Waivers

Of the LGUs that responded to my information requests, tuition waivers are offered by nearly half (10 of 22). However, these tuition waivers were incredibly variable for whom they applied. Many universities offer tuition waivers to Native Americans; however, they are restricted to specific Tribes whose ancestral lands the university currently occupies or they charge in-State tuition to enrolled-members of Tribes who were forcibly relocated. University of Maine had the most inclusive tuition waiver program which applied to enrolled-members of Tribes located in the geography of Maine, as well as descendants and enrolled-members from Tribes and First Nations located in other States and in Canada. 

Tribal Relations Liaison/Coordinator

Tribal Relations Liaison/Coordinator positions were rare among the universities that I contacted. For the few LGUs that did have one (e.g. University of Nevada, Reno and The University of Arizona (Tucson), Oregon State University), the scope of the positions varied to some extent, but generally involved formal engagement with Tribes. These positions are all located within the Office of the President/Chancellor. Funding for these positions are permanent, and the positions often were created by funding allocated by the Office of the President/Chancellor or came directly from the State legislature.

Engaged Universities 

By far the LGUs with the most support and programs for Native students and/or for local Tribes were the University of Arizona, University of Maine, and University of Oregon. These institutions were the most engaged with Tribes located within their States. Additionally, University of Washington (Seattle) and Cal Poly Humboldt were included in this report, as they are recognized by many as having many innovative programs for Native students and/or partnerships with Native communities.

Though they were not part of the interviews, it is worth noting the efforts of South Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota. These two LGUs have taken formal actions to address their land grab histories. South Dakota State University started their Wokini Initiative and the University of Minnesota created their Towards Recognition and University-Tribal Healing project (TRUTH).

Overview of Tuition Waivers, Land Grab Reports/Websites, and University Tribal Liaisons


Tuition Waiver Land Grab Report/Website Tribal Relations Officer/Liaison
University of California, Davis yes yes no
University of California, Berkeley yes yes Job posted
University of California, Riverside yes yes no
University of Arkansas yes* no no
Auburn University no no* no
Clemson University no no* no
Cornell University no* yes* no
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)  no* yes no
Ohio State University no yes* no
Purdue University no* no In process/TBD
Rutgers University no no*: Rutgers Library, Public History Project no
Texas A&M University no yes* no
University of Connecticut no yes no
University of Delaware no yes no
University of Florida no yes* no
University of Georgia yes*- limited to 5 tribes In process no
University of Maine yes no no
University of Nevada, Reno yes no yes
University of Tennessee yes*, in-State tuition limited toEastern Band of Cherokee Indians? no no
University of Vermont no* no no
Cal Poly Humboldt no n/a* temporary
Oregon State University yes* no* yes
University of Arizona (Tucson) yes* yes yes
University of Washington (Seattle) no*, in-State tuition for select Tribes outside State boundaries n/a yes

An asterisk (*) indicates that there is nuance. All of the various efforts at different universities which are documented in this chart do not always map cleanly into a “yes” or “no”. Review the specific profiles of the different universities in the following pages to understand that nuance.



Summary: The Native American Studies (NAS) program at UCD dates back to 1969 and began offering an undergraduate degree a few years later. During this period, NAS faculty supported the creation of a board of trustees to establish California’s first college founded by and for Native peoples, D-Q University. In 1973, the C.N. Gorman Museum of Native American Art opened and was named in honor of retired NAS faculty member, Carl Nelson Gorman. The Native American Language Center grew out of the NAS department and promotes language preservation and revitalization. The Indigenous Research Center of the Americas was founded in 1991 to support collaborative research with and the self-determination of Native Nations across the hemisphere. A Native American contemplative garden was created in 2009 following the excavation of thirteen Patwin burials which were subsequently reburied. The “Voice of Lupe” statue was created in 2015 to honor the Chicanx community following a racist and sexist controversy involving the UCD chapter of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. In 2017, the UC Davis Arboretum partnered with the Intertribal Agriculture Council to create the California Intertribal Nursery Training Program. That same year, the Native American Academic Student Success Center was established to support recruitment and retention of Native students. The Environmental and Climate Justice Hub was recently created to provide a central place to coordinate and enhance research, teaching, and outreach activities that address environmental and climate change injustices, with a focus on Native communities. Finally, a Pow Wow has been hosted at UC Davis since the mid-1970s and continues annually.

UC Native American Opportunity Plan: The UC Native American Opportunity Plan ensures that in-state systemwide Tuition and Student Services Fees are fully covered for California undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled members of Federally recognized Native American, American Indian, and/or Alaska Native tribes. 

UC Land Grab Report: The University of California at Berkeley is the Land-Grant University of California campus which received dispossessed Indigenous land as part of the Morrill Act. UC Davis was designated as a land-grant university nearly 100 years later. It too bears responsibility to Indigenous peoples; however, its specific history differs from the original LGUs.

Better Practices

Native American Living/Learning Community: The Native American Living/Learning Community gives students the opportunity to participate in co-curricular experiences that raise awareness about the impact of race and racism on individual identities, cross cultural communication, life opportunities, and various forms of social inequalities with an emphasis on Native and Indigenous issues. This community is connected to the Native American Academic Student Success Center and is open from all cultures who are interested in exploring Native cultures and Indigenous issues in a culturally appropriate way.

Native American Academic Student Success Center (Nest)
: The Nest is focused on creating a sense of belonging for Native American students in a culturally appropriate way. The community includes students, staff, faculty, and alumni from a wide variety of Tribal backgrounds, experiences, and academic interests. At the Nest, students can connect with UC Davis resources that enhance their academic success, learn about culturally relevant activities, and create a support network with other students who identify as Native American.

Native American Language Center (NALC): The NALC works encourage linguistic research on Native American languages in order to foster the intergenerational transfer of language knowledge in Native American communities and to develop a sustained and productive relationship between Native American linguistic scholarship and the needs and aspirations of Native American people. The Center encourages the active participation of scholars and students, both native and non-native, in the task of language preservation and revitalization, while also providing the resources and support for the training of a new and engaged generation of linguists.

Indigenous Research Center of the Americas: Affiliated with the NAS department, the IRCA has served as a forum for sharing knowledge and reflections on Indigenous cultures and the inherent decolonial struggles for higher levels of autonomy, sovereignty, and self-determination in Native nations across the hemisphere. IRCA is in the process of developing new projects that leverage digital tools to connect more allies, scholars, and scientists with Indigenous communities throughout the Americas and to share expertise in the protocols and ethics of engagement with native peoples to enhance multidisciplinary collaborations in the university setting as well as in community led projects outside of the university.

Native American Contemplative Garden: During the construction of the Mondavi Center, thirteen Patwin burials were excavated and subsequently reburied. Following this, a committee including representatives from UC Davis, its staff, and students and the Patwin community worked together to develop the plan to honor the Patwin heritage of UC Davis, the Department of Native American Studies, and all Native Americans at UC Davis and in the region. The project also serves to mark the Patwin’s spiritual connection to the land and their ancestors.

The Voice of Lupe statue: Following a decades-long controversy involving a racist and sexist song by the UCD chapter of the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, a statue was created in 2015 to honor the voice and agency of the Chicanx community. The statue is composed of three women who embody multiple trinities of symbolism: Past-Present-Future, Mother-Sister-Daughter, Wisdom-Courage-Strength, and Reflection-Activism-Healing. The three figures are La Mujer de Maiz, La Mujer del Jaguar, and La Mujer del Nopal.

Environmental and Climate Justice Hub: The Environmental and Climate Justice Hub provides additional opportunities to those working on environmental and climate justice issues on campus. The Hub is committed to elevating, expanding, and bringing resources to existing efforts, facilitating connections with new partners working to address environmental and climate injustice and equity, and centering Indigenous environmental justice issues and partnerships. 

C.N. Gorman Museum of Native American Art: For fifty years, the Gorman Museum of Native American Art has been dedicated to the creative expressions of Native American artists and artists of diverse cultures and histories. The Museum was founded in 1973 by the Department of Native American Studies in honor of retired faculty member, Carl Nelson Gorman, Navajo artist, WWII code-talker, cultural historian, and advocate for Native peoples. As a founding faculty member of Native American Studies, Gorman was the first faculty member to teach Native American art at UC Davis in 1969.

Intertribal Agriculture Council and Arboretum Training Program: This partnership holds trainings to promote the following objectives:

  1. Build Tribal/agency partnerships for sourcing and propagating native plants and enhance technical training programs that provide pathways for economic development initiatives in limited-resource communities
  2. Build Tribal capacity for technically skilled practitioners
  3. Train existing Tribal staff and future Tribal horticulturists, botanists, and general natural resource professionals
  4. Build location-derived seed and plant materials stocks for restoration scale projects attached to recent catastrophic fires and other climate-related disasters

Tribal Health PRIME Community Health Scholars Program: This program from the UC Davis School of Medicine is designed to provide students with the appropriate knowledge and skills to practice medicine in California’s urban and rural tribal communities. UC Davis aims to partner with communities to recruit and support students on their journey to careers in medicine. Community health and education leaders may identify and support promising pre-health students by submitting a letter of recommendation for their application to medical school at UC Davis. These students will then matriculate to UC Davis School of Medicine through the traditional pathway, the Wy’East pathway, and other targeted pre-medical recruitment efforts with regional tribal communities.

Summary: The Indigenous and Native Coalition Recruitment and Retention Center (INC-RRC), formerly known as the Native American Recruitment and Retention Center (NARRC) was founded in 1991 to support Native Students at Cal. For over forty years, the campus has hosted an annual Pow Wow. The Joseph A. Myers Center was founded in 2010 with a mission to provide the people of Indian country with pragmatic research products that can be employed to improve the quality of life for Native Americans throughout the US. The Native American Theme Program (NATP) is a residential living program for Native Students on-campus. The American Indian Graduate Program supports the recruitment and retention of Native and Indigenous graduate students. Since 2012, the Crossing Paths program has promoted Indigenous research on-campus through regular gatherings to share on scholarly research. Finally, a partnership between the Joseph A. Myers Center, the Native American Student Development, and the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center was created to support Native Youth programming.

UC Native American Opportunity Plan: The UC Native American Opportunity Plan ensures that in-state systemwide Tuition and Student Services Fees are fully covered for California undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled members of federally recognized Native American, American Indian, and/or Alaska Native tribes. 

UC Land Grab Report: This report was a joint-effort created following the release of the High Country News Land Grab U report.

Tribal Liaison position: A new position has been created but not yet filled.

Better Practices

Indigenous and Native Coalition Recruitment and Retention Center (INC-RRC): Indigenous and Native Coalition is an on-campus student-led student-initiated organization that recognizes the significance of keeping higher education accessible and attainable for all Native American and Indigenous students. The organization aims to provide resources and opportunities to Native students interested in attending Cal, while also supporting current students through social, cultural, and academic-based retention programs and events. 

Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues: The center brings the resources of the University to Native communities; developing, coordinating and funding collaborative, community-driven research projects; providing technical assistance and training; disseminating research publications and reports; and hosting conferences, colloquia and other events open to the public on topics of concern to Native communities.

Native American Theme Program (NATP): This residential living program provides a space for Native Students to live and learn together. In addition to the residential component, students enroll in a 2-unit seminar that focuses specifically on Native identity, history and contemporary Native issues, almost exclusively studying Native scholars. 

Crossing Paths: Undergraduate and Graduate Exchanges of Indigenous Research: Crossing Paths convenes six times per academic year, bringing together undergraduate and graduate-level Native and Indigenous students to present on their scholarly research or current projects. Crossing Paths is the only event on Berkeley’s campus that offers a space for all Native and indigenous graduate and undergraduate students to engage in exchange and learning, which builds both community and builds professional skills among students and their broader networks.

Supporting Our Future: Native Youth Programs: In addition to the a four-day summer youth institute the following programs were created:

  • Native Jumpstart: Native Jumpstart is a program that supports Native American and Indigenous high school students access to higher education. It aims to help students feel prepared in applying while creating connections with other Native and Indigenous students and staff on campus. The program allows students intensive one-on-one coaching and workshops.
  • Natives Transcending: The Natives Transcending Program is similar to Native Jumpstart in the sense that it aims to help students feel prepared in applying to universities like UC Berkeley. However, the program works specifically with community college students who are interested in transferring to UC Berkeley or any other UC school. The program also focuses more specifically on writing personal insight questions and presenting yourself in the application as well as college transfer specific workshops.

Summary: In 1976, UCR hired their first academic coordinator to conduct programming and outreach to Native American students. This position was originally part-time and became full-time in 1980 with the addition of the Native American Student Programs (NASP) and office for Native American students. The next year, the annual UCR Pow Wow began along with the ANnual Medicine Ways Conference. The Chancellor at UCR has had a Native American Advisory Committee since 1989. The radio station KUCR first aired Indian Time Radio in 1993 and it has aired continuously since. In 2000, UCR established the California Center for Native Nations which promotes the histories, cultures, languages, and sovereignty of Tribal Nations. In 2005, the Annual Gathering of the Tribes Summer Residential Program was created by the NASP. This is a summer program for Native American students grades 9-12. In 2016-2017, the UCR admin supported the Contemporary Indigenous Arts and Knowledge Cluster Hire which brought six full-time, tenure-track Native American faculty members. In cooperation with UCR extension, the California Indian Nations College began in 2018. This partnership continues today.

UC Native American Opportunity Plan: The UC Native American Opportunity Plan ensures that in-state systemwide Tuition and Student Services Fees are fully covered for California undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled members of federally recognized Native American, American Indian, and/or Alaska Native tribes. 

UC Land Grab Report: The University of California at Berkeley is the Land Grant University which received dispossessed Indigenous land as part of the Morrill Act. UCR was designated later as a land-grant university. It too bears responsibility to Indigenous peoples however its specific history, much like UC Davis, differs from the original LGUs.

Better Practices

Partnership with California Indian Nations College: Two-year accredited college with a curriculum that incorporates Indigenous culture, native language revitalization along with the re-institutionalization of traditional Native American values.

California Center for Native Nations: The California Center for the Native Nations (CCNN) is the bridge between the University of California and California’s Tribal Nations. It is a research center at the University of California, Riverside, that strives to and is committed to preserving the rich histories, cultures, languages and sovereignty of Tribal Nations. With a special focus on California Tribal Nations, CCNN is committed to working alongside American Indians to initiate, facilitate and execute research for, with, by, and about American Indians. The relationship CCNN seeks to achieve with Tribal Nations is reciprocal, not only benefiting and enriching the Tribal Nations in which it connects with, but also enriching Native American and American Indian Studies within academia.

Native American Student Programs (NASP): UCR is the first University of California campus to open an office focused on serving American Indian students, and remains only one of a few in the system. The NASP office provides educational, cultural, and social support for UCR students, specifically for Native American/American Indian Students. The NASP office coordinates a variety of activities and programs designed to expand education awareness for the UCR campus as well as the local communities. Additionally, NASP encourages the development and enhancement of leadership and interpersonal communication skills through active participation of students, which makes it possible to plan, organize, and implement innovative programs that promote and educate the campus community about the uniqueness of Indigenous Peoples.

Gathering of the Tribes SRP: This 8-day program is designed to give American Indian middle and high school students an opportunity to gain academic experience in a university setting at the University of California, Riverside. During the day, students will participate in various college courses, and personal development workshops. In the afternoons, they will engage in cultural and team building workshops, as well as fitness activities and a beach field trip. In addition, students will work with professors, college students, and invited American Indian community members as they discover and develop their career/lifetime goals. The program will end with a closing ceremony with certificates and awards. UCR staff and students will be available to all students in the program throughout their remaining years of high school, which will include guidance in choosing their coursework, financial aid, and applying to a university.

Annual Medicine Ways Conference: For over four decades, UCR’s Native American Student Association and Native American Student Programs have hosted the annual Medicine Ways Conference. Each year the theme has changed to reflect the times, with the students of NASA leading the way.

Native American Student Association: Native American Student Association (NASA) consists of students from various Native American communities throughout the United States and from other diverse backgrounds. In addition, NASA also represents Indigenous communities from Mexico, Canada, and other areas of the Americas. NASA provides a rich cultural environment through which Native American students on campus can prosper. NASA coordinates and sponsors various programs throughout the school year, with the Medicine Ways Conference being one of their principal events.

Summary: A non-resident tuition waiver for Native American students has existed since at least the early 1990s (Board Policy 520.1). A complete tuition waiver for Native American students has been proposed by staff and faculty, however the Chancellor has yet to respond. Retention of Indigenous faculty was identified as an issue.

Tuition Waiver: This non-resident tuition waiver grants in-State student status and applies to all of the University of Arkansas campuses. However, this waiver only applies to enrolled members of Tribes that were formerly located in Arkansas prior to relocation. This includes the Caddo, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Delaware, Kickapoo, Osage, Peoria, Quapaw, Shawnee, and Tunica.

Better Practices:

Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI): The University of Arkansas School of Law  is home to the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI), which, according to their website: “provide[s] strategic legal analysis, policy research, and educational resources to empower Indian Country through food sovereignty, agriculture, and economic development.” 

  • In addition to consulting directly with Tribal leaders, nonprofits, and growers, the IFAI is the research partner of the Native Farm Bill Coalition which advocates for Tribal needs to be considered as part of the US Farm Bill. Every year the IFAI works in partnership with the Intertribal Agriculture Council to host a summer gathering for Indigenous youth focused upon Indigenous agriculture.
  • Native Farm Bill Coalition priorities include calling for the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to fund Indigenous practices as “conservation” practices and to allow Tribes to administer funds directly.

Connecting Indigenous and Western Knowledge Systems for Student Success in STEM NSF Grant: A collaborative group of faculty and staff from Kapi’olani Community College and UArk recently completed an NSF grant titled “Connecting Indigenous and Western Knowledge Systems for Student Success in STEM at the University of Arkansas”.

  • This grant focused upon envisioning what role UArk could have in supporting the “sustainability of Indigenous knowledge, culture, and well-being”. It was framed through the idea of “Two-Eyed Seeing”- or seeing the world through an Indigenous perspective and western eye, to see together and advance the progress of science, prosperity, health, and well-being. An online gathering occurred over two days in Spring of 2021 titled, “Gathering to Transcend Barriers to Success: for this Generation and Those to Come”. 
    • The different thematic areas of sessions included Environmental and Land-Based Project, Health and Wellness, and Identity and Representation. From this effort, a number of initiatives were developed to further the goal of promoting Indigenous students’ success. The list can be viewed in the appendix. 

Cherokee Language classes Cherokee I, II, III and IV have been offered since Fall 2021. Classes are taught by elder and first language speaker, Lawrence Panther in the world languages department.

Summary: Auburn University was one of the LGUs without any formal land acknowledgement statement. Furthermore, they do not have a Native American/Indigenous Studies program, nor a Native student organization. In Fall of 2021, a student project report documented the land grab history of Auburn with the aim of promoting a campus-wide land acknowledgement statement.

As of 2023, there were less than 100 self-identified Native/Indigenous students within the student body of over 31,000 people. Auburn’s DEI strategy reports frequently highlight work being done to promote Diversity but the only historically marginalized group named explicitly are African-Americans. A President’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee has been established but thus far no actions have been taken.

Native Land Acknowledgement Project Report: This student report was the final project of a Sustainability capstone undergraduate class. It highlighted the settler colonial and land grab history of Auburn, promoted the elements needed for a land acknowledgement statement, and articulated the action steps for Auburn University to follow through on this process. It is worth highlighting that this report was created by undergraduate students and is the only thing of its kind available through the University’s website at Auburn University. As of Spring 2023, the University has not adopted a land acknowledgement statement.

Summary: A group called Decolonize Clemson began their work by holding a series of workshops between 2019-2021 which documented the University’s settler colonial legacies of Indigenous dispossession. These workshops were aimed to promote education of faculty and support them in bringing these histories into their classrooms. This work was part of a larger NEH project which centered around an unmarked burial site on-campus of enslaved peoples. The Decolonize Clemson group will hold two events in 2023 to further their work.

Better Practices:

Symposium and Roundtable Discussion: The Decolonize Clemson group will hold a symposium, in collaboration with three Cherokee artists, to reframe interpretations of the land. As part of an Indigenous Annotations Lab event, a roundtable discussion will be held between the Cherokee artists and Clemson administrators. This roundtable will be called “Who Needs NAIS?” as a means to encourage but caution the creation of a Native American, Indigenous studies program. As in, without sufficient support, this endeavor could be an empty gesture.

Summary: Following the publication of the Land grab universities project, The American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program (AIISP) at Cornell initiated work to address the University’s settler colonial legacies by forming the Cornell University and Indigenous Dispossession (CU&ID) Committee. Since June of 2020, this committee has taken a three-pronged approach:

  1. Native Nation and tribal outreach
  2. Appealing to administration 
  3. Fact-finding and dissemination of information

On their website the committee has extensively documented their activities on a timeline dating back to their first meeting in June of 2020.

Land Grab website: The committee chronologically documents all their work on this website beginning from their first meeting in June of 2020. The website includes information on the land parcels which were dispossessed from Indigenous communities and sold off to fund Cornell’s endowment. The site notes that Cornell received the most acreage via the Morrill Act and maps out the numerous parcels. 

Better Practices:

Native Nation and Tribal Outreach: This has entailed mapping all the current, former, State, and Federally-recognized tribes and Indigenous Peoples who were affected by the original Morrill Act. This came to between 230-240 Indigenous Peoples, to whom the committee has tried to contact and present the Land Grab/Morrill Act history if they were not already aware. Additionally, these communications entailed inquiring as to their needs and recommendations on ways forward. The committee also included the Native Nations within NY state on whose land Cornell and its various branches (AgriTech, Weill Medical etc) reside. 

Appealing to Administration: The Committee has and continues to meet with all levels of administration since August of 2020. Part of their requests entail fellowships and scholarships for Indigenous students.

Fact-finding and Dissemination of Information: The committee has engaged in much research and education around the Land Grab and Settler Colonial history of Cornell. This has entailed various visiting lectures, conference presentations, blog posts, publications, and an upcoming book by Dr. Jon Parmenter. Many of these resources reside on the Committee’s website.

Summary: Much of the activities in response to the land grab and settler colonial legacies of MIT, comes out of a class titled “Indigenous History of MIT”. This course debuted in Spring 2021 following the publication of the Land grab university project. Since that time, a new tenure-track faculty line was created in Native American Studies, funding for a visiting scholars program focused on Native American Studies, a commitment to funding Indigenous community efforts on campus equal to the annual Morrill Act funding, two graduate fellowships in Indigenous languages for two years, and an internal history report of MIT’s third president who was one of the architects of the reservation system.

Tuition Credits: The State of Massachusetts has a system of tuition credits for Native American students who are residents in the State of Massachusetts. These funds are limited to specified tribes in Massachusetts as well as Federally-recognized Tribes, recognized First Nations, and some State-recognized Tribes in other States.The tuition credits do not fully cover the cost of tuition. Tuition Credits provide up to $708.50 toward tuition per semester for Massachusetts residents taking undergraduate courses and up to $1,035.50 for those taking graduate level courses. 

Better Practices

Indigenous History of MIT course: Students work with MIT faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as faculty and researchers at other universities and centers, to focus on how Indigenous people and communities have influenced the rise and development of MIT. Students build a research portfolio that will include an original research essay, archival and bibliographic records, maps and images, and other relevant documentary and supporting materials.

Indigenous Language Initiative: Master’s program in Linguistics for members of communities whose languages are threatened. The goal of the program is to provide its graduates with the linguistic knowledge that will help them in efforts to keep their communities’ languages alive. Following the revelations of the Land grab universities report, the MIT President provided funding for two fellowships for this two-year long program.

Indigenous Communities Fellowship: Beginning in 2018, this fellowship program supports Indigenous peoples engaged in work related to themes co-selected by MIT and Indigenous partners. Each year cohorts of six to eight teams are selected and provided with mentorship and a $10,000 grant. 

Summary: After the murder of George Floyd, the OSU Office of the President made available a series of internal grants to support racial equity. Through this grant program, a group at OSU received $230,000 to support the creation of a truth-telling process, the Stepping Out and Stepping Up Initiative. Part of this work entailed reaching out to Tribes and to Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs). With the departure of the OSU President who initiated this racial equity grant program, the next steps are unclear. 

Better Practices:

Stepping Out and Stepping Up Initiative: As there are no Federal or State recognized Tribes in Ohio, the OSU group worked with First Nations Development Institute to reach out to the ~70 Tribes whose ancestral lands were dispossessed through the Morrill Act and sold off to fund the OSU endowment. Many of these Tribes lack State and Federal recognition and are located outside of the State of Ohio. 

Land-Grant Partnerships: This program aims to identify and promote connections between 1862 LGUs and 1994 TCUs. This project created a database to document on-going and past partnerships and has collaborated with the First Americans Land-Grant Consortium (FALCON) to promote new partnerships. In 2022, a post-conference was created after the annual FALCON conference with the intention to promote food sovereignty and other initiatives. 

Summary: The Native American Educational and Cultural Center (NAECC) is the central hub of community for Indigenous scholars on the Purdue campus. It came out of the Tecumseh Project which was a graduate student-led initiative to increase the sense of scholarly community for Indigenous peoples at Purdue. This project led to the creation of the NAECC, the Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership Program, an Indigenous speaker series, and a visiting scholars partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). Though the Tecumseh Project came to an end, the NAECC continues forward with permanent funding through the Office of the Provost. According to the interviewee, there is no official land acknowledgement statement at Purdue due to a lack of administrative support.

Better Practices:

Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership Program: This is a scholarship program that aids Indigenous graduate students in STEM at a number of universities nation-wide. This program has helped to create a 95% retention rate for Indigenous students and has allocated $4.1 million split between the collaborating universities. 

Past Better Practices:

Visiting Scholars Partnership with the EBCI: This was a year-long program featuring Cherokee elders, scholars, and artists who spent a week-long residency at Purdue to share their knowledge in Cherokee history, languages, and artwork. Purdue provided the resources for visiting scholars, elders, and artists to stay in on-campus apartments as well as the resources for travel and honorariums.

Tecumseh Seminar Speaker Series: This speaker series came out of the initial organizing of the Tecumseh project and was designed to highlight research of Native American scholars at Purdue University and across the U.S.

Tribal Immersion Program: The NAECC previously organized a trip in partnership with the EBCI. This immersion program took place over spring break and was composed of majority non-Native students visiting the Tribal facilities of the EBCI including their health center and schools as well as with Tribal officials, Supreme Court Justices, and artists.

Summary: Rutgers University does not have an Indigenous Studies department, program, minor, or center on campus. There is an Indigenous student organization, but it is still relatively new. There are currently only two full-time faculty members that specialize in Indigenous studies. A project has begun at Rutgers to create a Native American Acknowledgement garden, however, the process has paused as the group leading the effort wishes to build meaningful relationships with local Tribes to ensure that this project is done in a good way. A project called Our Land, Our Stories was created in collaboration with Rutgers’ Library, the Landscape Architecture Department, and the Ramapough Lunaape Nation. This multimedia project is part environmental justice advocacy, as well as curriculum development for contemporary and historical Indigenous land relations. Additionally, faculty at Rutgers collaborated on the Public History Project which maps the connections between dispossession, enslavement, migration, and extractive trade networks in the New Jersey/New York region. 

Lastly, Rutgers recently signed an MOU with the Department of Environmental Protection and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey (NOFA-NJ) to lease State land to ecological farmers including those from the Lunaape Nation Turtle Clan.

Better Practices:

Our Land, Our Stories: This is a collaborative project with Rutgers University, Department of Landscape Architecture and the Ramapough Lunaape Nation. This is a multimedia project for environmental justice advocacy and curriculum development for Native American history and contemporary Indigenous land relations. The project elucidates how relationships to land are disrupted by environmental pollution. It explains how negative portrayals of Native American communities have contributed to the targeting of their lands as dumpsites, while leaving them marginalized in the remediation process. It illustrates how Indigenous communities are responding with programs for cultural restoration and food sovereignty. Project materials were created in collaboration with the Turtle Clan, many of whom live on a Superfund site. Materials include the Our Land, Our Stories book, The Meaning of the Seed documentary film, traveling exhibits, short video projects on our YouTube channel, social media platforms, and this digital exhibit for Rutgers University Libraries. Utilizing a variety of formats, the project incorporates multiple voices and creates a multi-media forum for sharing important stories of land and loss, and of survival and recovery.

Public History Project: This is an interdisciplinary research consortium, including faculty at Rutgers, based within the bio-region that is home to New York and New Jersey. It maps how the connections between dispossession, enslavement, migration, and extractive trade networks have led to historical and current ecological crises. The project has four main focus areas:

  1. The Pavonia Massacre of 1643 in which Dutch soldiers attacked Lunaape communities in what is commonly known today as Jersey City, New Jersey
  2. Indigenous Foodways
    1. Passaic Fish Weir Complex
  3. Indigenous Place-Names Map
  4. Timeline of Dispossession, Enslavement and Extraction

Native American Acknowledgment Garden: Conversations between faculty, staff, and the local Indigenous communities have begun to create a Native American Acknowledgment garden on the campus of Rutgers.

State-Land Leases for Ecological Agriculture: The State of New Jersey owns some hundred thousand acres of land. Recently, the Department of Environmental Protection signed an MOU with Rutgers and NOFA-NJ in order to lease acreage to beginning and minority farmers. In order to be eligible to lease land, potential farmers must agree to grow using organic/regenerative practices. This program will be free of charge and will begin with an Indigenous farmer from the Lunaape Turtle Clan.

Summary: There is currently no Native American or Indigenous studies program or department at TAMU. However, there is an Indigenous Studies working group which was created in 2008 and is supported by the Glasscock Center for Humanities Research. Following the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, the TAMU administration created a Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to provide findings related to diversity,equity and inclusion at Texas A&M through research and discourse across topics of racial intolerance, university policies and practices, and historical representations such as statues. The Commission’s report is not specific to Morrill Land Grab histories but does include some of Land grab history. 

Stronger Together DEI Report: The report published references the Morrill Act and related land grabs but is broadly about DEI.

Better Practices: 

HERE: Faces and Voices of Native Aggies Art exhibit: This exhibit was organized and held at the campus gallery. This exhibit took a more celebratory tone and was meant to generate interest and goodwill. Maps were created which artistically utilized the Land Grab University resources along with information about the communities of origin of Native American students. This exhibit celebrated early Indigenous students at Texas A&M going back to the early 1900s. Some of these alumni would go on to become Military Veterans and code talkers, football players, and even the Athletic Director at Carlisle Indian School.

Indigenous Studies Working Group: Created in 2008, this group has focused on educational programming including bringing in speakers, sponsoring performances and screenings, and organizing symposia and workshops. They have collaborated with the TAMU Native American Student organization and have applied for grants to fund research exploring the historic and on-going relationship of the university to Indigenous peoples. Part of the goal of this research is to conduct forensic accounting to understand the full depth of money that TAMU has gained through past and on-going acts of dispossession. This includes a current project to better understand the Indigenous origins of their many research collections and what obligations those connections entail.

Summary: The Native American Cultural Program at UConn is a space on-campus for Indigenous students, scholars, staff, community members, and allies. It is not a formal center but recently moved from an on-campus storage closet to a former on-campus restaurant (renovations are TBD). This space is a hub of Indigenous presence at UConn and includes Indigenous student organizing, events, mentorships, an annual Powwow, and a Tribal community-member in-residence program. In Fall of 2020, UConn had a cluster hire of Indigenous faculty, three of the four hires remain. Through a grant from the USDA, the University provides a limited number of scholarships for Native students to receive their associates degree in plant science related fields. Lastly, a group at UConn has produced a detailed website which documents the Land Grab history of the university. 

Land Grab Website:  With the support of an on-campus graphic design group, Greenhouse Studios, a group at UConn created a website extensively documenting the Land Grab history exposed through the High Country News exposé, Land grab university. This website includes information on the land parcels UConn received and sold off via the Morrill Act, two timelines–one national and one State-specific–documenting the history of colonization through the present day, and a background on the Morrill Act and its relationship to UConn.

Better Practices:

New Beginnings for Students of the Tribes of Southern New England: This USDA funded program provides tuition as well as room and board for up to four Native Students from Southern New England to receive their associates degree in an agricultural science. This New Beginnings program is developing a new general education course that examines Indigenous governance and worldview of food and sustainability through the lens of the interconnected health of humans, animals, plants, and the environment. Tribal educators will be involved in the design and delivery of this course.

Tribal Community Member-in-Residence: This position through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is meant to support the experience of Native students on campus.

Native Student Mentorship program: The UConn Native and Indigenous Students and Scholars Network (UNISSN) works to provide Native and Indigenous students in their first year at UConn with the connections and resources necessary to thrive while adapting to the new academic, extra-curricular, personal, and social challenges of college, including being away from your tribal community. This program aims to build relationships between students and instill confidence in our mentees by pairing first-year and transfer Native and Indigenous students with continuing Native and Indigenous students who will serve as a resource for them during their first year at UConn.

Summary: Much of the activities to address settler colonial legacies at UD are from the American Indian and Indigenous Relations Committee which came out of the UD Anti-Racism Initiative. This committee created a Living Land Acknowledgement and institutional action steps in consultation with local Tribal leadership including from the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware, the Nanticoke Indian Tribe, and the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation. With financial support from the Anti-Racism Initiative, two graduate students were hired to document the Land Grab History of UD and to develop a document of keywords for building respectful relationships.

Land Grab History Report: This report summary was created by a History graduate student with funds from the UD Anti-Racism Initiative. This report documents the history of UD and maps the 90,000 acres of land which it received as part of the 1862 Morrill Act. Additionally, it names the 67 present-day Indigenous Tribes, Bands, and Nations who were dispossessed of their lands to fund the UD endowment. A full report is forthcoming.

Better Practices:

American Indian and Indigenous Relations Committee: This committee, which is part of the UD Anti-Racism Initiative, worked with local Tribal leadership to develop an extensive Living Land Acknowledgement Statement and Institutional Action Steps. There are a series of 8 action steps along with additional elements. These include:

  1. Adopt the UD Anti-Racism Initiative Indigenous Programming committee’s thoughtful, collaborative, & actionable Living Land Acknowledgement
  2. Recognition of the Harvest moon in late September as the time of ancestral gratitude ceremonies. Recognition that Thanksgiving in November marks, for many but not all Native Americans, a national day of mourning.
  3. Develop an UD Ethics Policy for working with Indigenous communities
  4. Support accessible counseling services to local tribal communities via a third party provider
  5. Enhance dignity and self-determination through capacity building
  6. Outreach, recruitment and retention of Indigenous students, faculty, and staff
  7. Encourage patronage of Indigenous owned businesses and prioritize UD contracts with Indigenous service providers.
  8.  Sponsor collaborative cultural programs, e.g. powwows, artist initiatives, citizen science programs, food security programs, and documentation of traditional ecological knowledge

Keywords for Building Respectful Relationships: This document is in-progress and not yet been published online. Their website states: “Having language in common creates a foundation for dialogue and collective action. Yet our various constituencies do not necessarily share the same vocabulary or meanings for the same words. The selection offered in this document balances current best practices in the academic field of Indigenous Studies with the preferred language of American Indian communities with whom we are in dialogue. When we have encountered divergent terms and definitions, we have attempted to make these differences visible. We offer these keywords as a non-authoritative educational resource for our different and interrelated communities to foster clear communication and collaboration.”

Summary: The University of Florida published a report in April of 2022 which discusses the University’s history of racism towards African Americans and Native American peoples. While quite extensive, this report did not offer up any recommendations or action items. Because of the current political climate in the State, there is fear of using an official land acknowledgement statement. However, some unofficial land acknowledgements do exist within specific departments and centers.

Task Force Report: Following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the former UF President commissioned a task force to investigate histories of racism at the university. This Task Force was initially focused upon histories of racism toward African Americans then Native American histories were added. . The appointed Chair of the Task Force ,insisted that the report be objective, only a series of facts, and not make any recommendations. Due to the political climate of Florida under Governor DeSantis, the final report was published in April of 2022. Titled the “Report on African American and Native American History and the University of Florida”, it extensively documents the racist foundations and history of the University throughout its 110 pages.

Summary: In Fall of 2021, the UGA Board of Regents did not approve the use of a proposed land acknowledgement statement. Instead, individual departments and centers have begun to use an unofficial land acknowledgement. A Native American Student Association was recently formed at UGA where the Native student population is less than 1% of the student body. In Fall of 2022, a museum studies class titled “Indigenizing Athens” began. Though there are no Federal or State-recognized Tribes in Georgia, the University provides in-State tuition costs to the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles– Tribes that were forced to relocate from the original “Georgia colony”. The first UGA Powwow was held this past year and will continue annually. Lastly, a lecture series titled “Homeland Returns” is held which invites removed Tribal citizens for presentations.

In-State Tuition: UGA does not have a tuition waiver but does provide in-State tuition rates for members of the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles– Tribes that were forced to relocate from the original “Georgia colony”.

Better Practices:

Curriculum: UGA has at least three notable classes and certificates as part of their curriculum.

  1. Master’s Degree in Museum Studies with a certificate in Tribal Historic Preservation
  2. Native Legal Studies certificate
  3. “Indigenizing Athens” museum studies course

Summary: The University of Maine has had one of the longest tuition remission programs for Native students dating back to the 1930s. Today, their tuition remission program will cover any Indigenous or First Nations person who has gained residency in the State. The Wabanaki Center is the hub of Indigenous activities on-campus and was established in 1995. In 1997, a Native American Studies undergraduate program was developed. Currently, there is a group of faculty, staff, and students called Decolonizing UMaine which is working to address the settler colonial legacies of the University and to make it a more accessible space for Indigenous peoples. In 2018, UMaine signed an MOU with the Penobscot Nation in order to formalize on-going projects. Some projects include signage on campus in the Penobscot language, support from UMaine in the creation of IRB for the Penobscot Nation, Penobscot Nation access and claims over UMaine collections, and Library access for the Tribe.

Better Practices: 

MOU:  In 2018, UMaine and the Penobscot Nation signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize on-going projects. These include:

  1. Support from UMaine for the creation of a Penobscot IRB
    1. Integration of Penobscot Tribal Rights and Resources Protection Board into University research processes which involved the Penobscot people or cultural heritage
  2. Integration of Penobscot Traditional Knowledge labels into University collections and cultural heritage items
  3. Hudson Museum will provide a Wabanaki seat on their Board of Directors with preference to Penobscot Tribal member
    1. Hudson Museum will collaborate on documentation and cataloging and will digitally share all Penobscot collections with the Tribe
  4. Fogler Library will work with Penobscot Nation to create guidelines for inclusive decision-making for permissions to use and circulate Penobscot cultural materials
    1. Fogler Library will support Penobscot Nation in having affiliate status and again access to online Library research databases
  5. University of Maine Press will notify Penobscot Nation, through the Penobscot Tribal Rights and Resources Protection Board, in relation to any planned (re)publications that include Penobscot cultural heritage
    1. When Penobscot Nation is the ‘author’, they will retain the copyright and enter into licensing agreements with the Press
  6. Anthropology Department will collaborate with the Penobscot Nation on a process to catalog their collections, including the identification of culturally significant and sensitive materials
    1. Together, they will develop an collections management policies, including any digital data sharing policy as needed

Penobscot Signs: Bilingual English and Penobscot language signs are located all across the UMaine campus with the intention to foster an awareness of the presence of multiple, living languages for campus places, as for example when a sign is used to label a place such as nətasotəmənena, “we discuss it” for a seminar room, áwətəssis, “little path” for the bike path, and kkìhkαn, “garden” for Littlefield Garden. Indigenous language signage shows respect for the Penobscot Nation and its people while raising awareness that the University of Maine campus is located on Penobscot homeland.

Wabanaki Center: Since 1995, the Wabanaki Center has been committed to building and sustaining a mutually beneficial relationship between the University of Maine and Native American communities. It is a gathering place for Indigenous scholars engaged in advancing Wabanaki studies through teaching, research and publication.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty Extension: The UMaine Native American Program and UMaine extension recently created and hired for a new extension professor position focused on Indigenous Food Systems and Sovereignty. This position focuses on Native American food systems and sovereignty, building on relationships established with the Tribes and grants and programs developed in Native American Programs.

Past Better Practices-

Wabanaki Youth in Science (WaYS) Program: Beginning in the Summer of 2013 and running up until 2022, UMaine held an annual earth camp for Wabanaki Youth at varying locations throughout the State of Maine. The primary focus of the camps was to connect Native youth with Cultural Knowledge Keepers and western science professionals, often on ancestral lands.  These camps afforded students an opportunity to understand the cultural heritage first-hand, acknowledge current environmental changes and learn ways forward to manage the lands to incorporate a broader and more holistic understanding of environmental stewardship.

Wabanaki Leadership Institute (WLI): The WLI was a two-year fellowship program that provided intergenerational leadership training for members of the Wabanaki Nations. Fellows received training in the following areas: Traditional Wabanaki Governance, Core Cultural Values, Native Nation Building, Environmental Responsibility, and Culturally Relevant Economic Development.WLI was a two-part program that provided a year of intensive learning, followed by a year of practical experience.

Summary: UNR has myriad programs to support Indigenous students especially within the College of Agriculture. An Indigenous community relations position was created within the University of Nevada Office of the President and receives State funds. The current Director of Indigenous Community Relations has conducted an external inventory of all activities being done at UNR in relation to Indigenous communities and is working with those involved in projects with Indigenous communities.

Tuition Waiver: The Native American Fee Waiver applies to all University of Nevada campuses. It is a complete tuition waiver which applies to all enrolled Tribal members as well as their descendants. Currently, there is a Nevada State residency requirement which does exclude some Nevada Tribes as the boundaries of their reservations cross State lines.

Tribal Liaison position: The Director of Tribal Community Relations is located within the University of Nevada Office of the President. This position receives State funding, has its own office, and administrative staff. The current director has worked to support UN staff and faculty in working with Tribal Nations, especially when the support has been sought out by Tribes. Part of this work has entailed promoting cultural humility and supporting researchers in understanding the depth of harm done to Native Nations which affects relationships to this day. Furthermore, the Director has inventoried the various projects being undertaken in partnership with Tribes and created a process whereby the Tribal Community Relations Office can support better Tribal-University relations. 

  • With additional funding from a Nevada Tribe, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) created its own Tribal Community liaison position through their College of Hospitality.

Better Practices:

Living-Learning Indigenous Student Dorm: Designated dorm for Indigenous students. RA position for Indigenous Graduate student

College of Agriculture: 

  • Tribal Student Specialist: Grant funded faculty position dedicated to mentoring Native students.
  • Tribal House at the University Farm: Five Indigenous students live at the Tribal House rent-free. 

Summary: In 2016, the Office of Diversity at UTK was defunded by the State legislature. In the past few years, an effort was made to create a land acknowledgement statement in conversation with the upper administration. However, no additional steps were taken by the upper administration so those involved with the creation of the land acknowledgement statement stopped their efforts. They were concerned with the statement being an empty gesture without the addition of any other actions. An in-State tuition waiver exists for the enrolled members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the ancestral peoples of the land on which the University occupies. The McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture created multiple exhibits in partnership with multiple tribes. One of the exhibits focused upon repatriation of funeral artifacts on exhibit at the McClung Museum and the other focused upon a large ceremonial Mound located on what is now campus.

Tuition Waiver: Since the early 2000s, UTK has offered in-state tuition to enrolled members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). The UTK campus occupies the ancestral homelands of the EBCI before they were forced to move during relocation. Other Indigenous Nations do have ancestral ties to this land but do not receive any type of tuition waiver. 

Better practices:

McClung Museum Repatriation Exhibit: In December of 2021, the McClung museum held a  listening session with 11 Tribes who called for the removal and repatriation of funeral artifacts which were on display in the museum. The museum removed the artifacts and created a repatriation exhibit from this process highlighting the voices of the Tribal members involved.

“A Sense of Indigenous Place: Native American Voices and the Mound at University of Tennessee” exhibit: This new exhibit attempts to foreground the university from an Indigenous perspective rather than from archaeology. In collaboration with four Tribes–the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the Cherokee Nation, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, and the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma– the McClung Museum is co-curating this exhibit which seeks to question “ownership” of these spaces and the impact of mounds on Native culture and art.

Summary: University of Vermont does not have a formal tuition waiver for Native Students but does have a donor established scholarship program which Native students can apply for each year in order to fund their degrees. There was previously a UVM Indigenous Peoples working group but it went inactive in Spring of 2022. For thirty-seven years, the University held a summer program for Indigenous youth but this program has been discontinued. Currently, there is a USDA Agriculture Research Station (ARS) project between plant science faculty and Indigenous communities. Additionally, there is an effort to rename buildings on campus which were named for peoples involved with the early 20th-century eugenics movement. 

Better Practices:

Gene x Environment x Management (GEM) Beans & Corn Project: This USDA ARS funded project, in partnership with local Indigenous communities, aims to support Indigenous varieties of corn and beans. The project will work to understand the interactions between genes, the environment, and management practices on the growing outcomes of these traditional crops.


Other LGUs and Public Universities with Better Practices


Summary: Since the 1960s, there has been formal programming for Native American students. According to the interviewee, these programs were often fought for and were not always supported by the administration. Since 1969, the Indian Tribal & Educational Personnel Program (ITEPP) has provided culturally responsive academic advising, co-curricular programming, educational planning, and academic support focused on Indigenous methods of learning and community accountability. In 1972, the Native American Career Education in Natural Resources program was created, later evolving into the Indian Natural Resources, Science and Engineering Program (INRSEP), providing academic and research support services to first generation, low income, and historically underrepresented students in STEM disciplines with a focus on American Indian and Indigenous students. CPH has a robust Native American Studies program offering an undergraduate major and minor as well as graduate degrees. Every year, the CPH students organize a Big Time and social gathering for Tribal communities. Most recently, the Rou Dalagurr Food Sovereignty Lab & Traditional Ecological Knowledge Institute was created by faculty, staff, and students. Additionally, a Place-based Learning Communities program was created which supports students to live and learn together in cohorts. Of note, Dr. Vine Deloria Jr. visited CPH in 1989 as an outside consultant and remarked how incredible the programs for Native American students were with such little funding.

Tribal Liaison: A new position, the Special Assistant to the President for Tribal Relations and Community Engagement, was recently created. This position however is temporary and does not have an office of its own. It is unclear for how long this position will exist.

Better Practices

Native California History video series: CPH has an extensive online video collection documenting the history of Native California as well as on-going projects and programs. 

Indian Tribal & Educational Personnel Program (ITEPP): ITEPP has grown over five decades to support Native American Indian students in a wide array of academic disciplines within the four colleges. Established in 1969, ITEPP provides culturally responsive academic advising, co-curricular programming, educational planning, and academic support focused on Indigenous methods of learning and community accountability. ITEPP provides Native students with a sense of belonging centered around cultural values, beliefs, and traditions that assist students in navigating higher education with confidence, namely, self-efficacy. Students receive valuable leadership skills, access to scholarships & internship opportunities, connection to local tribes, agencies, and resources. 

Indian Natural Resources, Science and Engineering Program (INRSEP): INRSEP + Diversity in STEM provides academic and research support services to first generation, low income, and historically underrepresented students in STEM disciplines with a focus on American Indian and Indigenous students. They strive to work as partners with local tribal communities to learn from their wisdom and contribute to their goals. Their mission is to improve STEM fields by empowering students to become leaders who give back to their communities, society, and future generations while strengthening connections with their heritage and culture.

Place-Based Learning Communities (PBLCs): The PBLCs provide one year of programming for  freshmen in specific science majors. They live, eat and breathe science from beginning to end, together. Before the fall semester begins, students participate in a summer program, which includes fieldwork and seminars. There are currently five PBLCs: Among Giants, Klamath Connection, Representing Realities, Rising Tides, and Stars to Rocks.

Rou Dalagurr Food Sovereignty Lab & Traditional Ecological Knowledge Institute: The Food Sovereignty Lab (FSL), which broke ground on October 8th 2021 following a student-led effort which raised over $250,000, is dedicated to the learning, research, hands-on practice and preservation of food sovereignty and Traditional Ecological Knowledges. The purpose of the FSL is to provide an opportunity to work directly with the surrounding communities, tribal nations, and national and international scholars and community leaders to center, learn, and engage with Indigenous science, environmental management, and preservation practices. The lab will build national and international connections that foreground Indigenous voices in rigorous academic research, publications and community-centered programming, connecting youth to higher education, policy development, economic development, and climate resiliency. 

Summary: OSU has a number of programs and activities in support of local Indigenous Tribes and Indigenous students on-campus. Between 2016-2018, multiple buildings on-campus were renamed to distance the University from histories of racism and eugenics and to attempt to honor Indigenous peoples. Student-employees and staff from the Cultural Centers on campus visited local Tribes on a number of occasions for trainings. Tribal representatives met with the Board of Trustees to voice their concerns directly. Indigenous faculty at OSU worked with local Tribes to create a land acknowledgement statement and the University conducted multiple trainings for various entities on-campus on how to engage with it. A secondary land acknowledgement statement was created which speaks directly to the land theft enacted through the Morrill Act. 

Local Tribes asked for a tuition waiver which eventually led to the Oregon Tribal College Grant, which covers all of tuition beyond Federal and State aid. OSU has an online degree program oriented for Indigenous students which is fully covered for Tribes located within the State and in-State tuition is the cost for out-of-State Tribes. The OSU President’s Commission on Indigenous Affairs was approved in summer of 2022 and is the official space of advocacy for Indigenous needs on campus. A new Indigenous Studies minor was approved in 2022. A Tribal Liaison position in Government Affairs is being developed. Through the College of Forestry, an Indigenous Natural Resources Office was created along with a Traditional Ecological Knowledge Lab. Additionally, the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences has TEK lab and created frameworks for Tribal Data Sovereignty. The administration has provided institutional funding for the on-campus Powwow to raise the amount offered for prizes and has offered paid internships to fund students to attend other Powwows. The Office of Research is currently working to amend the IRB process to include protections for sacred sites. An internal cluster hire for Indigenous Studies occurred in Fall of 2021 for three tenure track faculty positions. Within the student union, the flags of all nine Tribes located within the State of Oregon are raised. For the past three years, an art exhibit titled “This is Kalapuyan Land”’ has been held which highlights Indigenous land sovereignty. Lastly, OSU has an Indigenous student center called the “Ina Haws” and an Indigenous student dorm called “Munk-Skukum”.

Tribal Relations Liaison: OSU is developing a Tribal Relations Liaison position within the Office of Governmental Affairs. Recently, the College of Forestry hired an Associate Dean for inclusive excellence and director of Tribal initiatives. This position is tasked with serving as Director of the College’s new Office for Tribal Initiatives, acting as the primary liaison with Native American Tribes throughout the Northwest, overseeing the execution of the college’s strategic plan for diversity, equity and inclusion, and working to improve the recruitment and retention of underserved student populations.

Oregon Tribal Grant Program: This grant program provides money to offset the cost of tuition after Federal and State grants/scholarships. It is a yearly budget item for the State and thus must be renewed annually by the legislature. Tribal students from outside the State of Oregon do not qualify for this grant program but can pay at the rate of in-State tuition.

Land Acknowledgement Statement: While not a formal report about OSU and the Morrill Act, this land acknowledgement statement goes further than most and names not only the Tribes whose land the university occupies but also the Tribes from whom land was dispossessed. 

Better Practices: 

Renaming Project: From 2016-2018, OSU commissioned multiple reports to detail the histories of various buildings on campus. Some of the buildings were named for former Confederate soldiers and other supporters of slavery. This website includes historical information on the buildings, historical information on the people whom they were named after and includes a section compiling news of other building name changes around the country.

Ecampus online degrees for Tribal Students: OSU offers a number of online bachelor’s and master’s degrees which can be utilized by Tribal Students. A number of resources are available to support reduced or free tuition.

President’s Commission on Indigenous Affairs: This commission was formally approved in Summer of 2022 and serves as an entity to enact policies and programs to support OSU Indigenous students, staff, faculty, as well as Tribal communities. Their primary functions are:

  • Advocacy: Call attention to and advance the needs of Indigenous students, faculty, and staff.
  • Accountability: Advocate institutionally when university action is not reaching goals and obligations to Indigenous people.
  • Continuance: Advancing a sustainable model of institutional change that meets the needs of Indigenous people.

Indigenous Natural Resource Office: Within the College of Forestry, this Office provides support to develop relationships and partnerships with the nine Tribal Nations of Oregon, Tribal Nations in the Pacific Northwest, and Indigenous people globally. Centering Tribal Sovereignty, this Office aims to engage both Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Western science for natural resource conservation problems. 

Traditional Ecological Knowledge Labs: Within the Indigenous Natural Resource Office in the College of Forestry, there is a Traditional Ecological Knowledge Lab. And within the College of Agriculture’s Wildlife, Fish, Conservation Department, there is a TEK lab. These labs aim to work in partnership with Indigenous communities, prioritizing Tribal sovereignty and emphasizing Data sovereignty within their work.

New Beginnings for Tribal Students: Indigenous undergraduate students majoring in the physical or life sciences may be eligible to receive funding for unpaid internships. Internships are expected to last a minimum of 8 weeks advancing the student’s understanding of their field of study through experiential learning.

Kaku-Ixt Mana Ina Haws: This is an Indigenous student center which provides a sense of home/community for Indigenous students that helps preserve their Indigenous identities while in college. The space provides educational opportunities to educate all about the regions’ Tribes. Events are held in fall, winter, and spring terms that highlight Indigenous history, culture, and current issues that also help give the broader campus community more understanding about Indigenous people.

munk-skukum Indigenous Living-Learning Community: The munk-skukum Indigenous Living Learning Community offers a residential space for students to find community, explore cultural identity and learn more about the lands on which they will be residing. This community offers connections to other students with a shared interest in centering Indigenous people, to cultural events on campus and to resources to help support students while they are at Oregon State University. munk-skukum means “to strengthen” in chinuk wawa (the local trade language). 

Past Better Practices

This is Kalapuyan Land” exhibit: OSU occupies tradition Kalapuyan territory. This exhibit partly consisted of signs around campus which identify the land as such. The exhibition prompted critical thinking around representation of Indigenous history and identity in non-Indigenous institutions.

Summary: In 2019, UofA Tucson started the process to develop a Strategic Plan for Native American Advancement and Tribal Engagement. The University currently flies the 22 flags of Native Nations located in Arizona. UofA has the highest number of graduating Indigenous students in STEM. A recent Native scholars grant has supported a 50% increase in Native transfer students. Like Purdue University, UofA participates in the Sloan Indigenous Scholarship Program which provides scholarships and stipends to Indigenous students. UofA holds an annual Tribal Summit, inviting Tribal leaders from all over North America. They received NSF funding to support a training program for STEM graduate students to work with Tribes called Indige-FEWSS. A Native Voices in STEM monthly seminar series occurs. Recently a microcampus was opened located next to the Pasqui Yaqui reservation. 

UofA have a number of programs and institutes oriented towards Indigenous peoples including:

  • Office of Native American Advancement & Tribal Engagement
  • Indigenous Resilience Center
  • Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy (IPLP) Program
  • Indigenous Teachers Education Program
  • Native Nations Institute
  • Tribal Cooperative Extension
  • Wassaja Carlos Montezuma Center for Native American Health
  • American Indian Studies program
  • Native Student Center

Arizona Native Scholars Grant: The Arizona Native Scholars Grant (ANS) is an institutional grant program that ensures the tuition, mandatory fees, tuition differentials and program fees are fully covered for Native, Arizona Resident, Undergraduate students seeking their first Bachelor’s degree. ANS will fill in the gap between a student’s tuition, mandatory fees, tuition differentials, program fees and all other gift aid the student receives (Pell Grant, merit scholarships, etc.). This can be awarded up to four years and applies to the 22 Federally recognized Tribes in Arizona.

Tribal Relations Liaison: This position is called Senior Vice President for Native American Advancement & Tribal Engagement. This position coordinates University-wide efforts to advance Native American programs and tribal engagement in consonance with the strategic plan. Additionally, the person in this role serves as a point of contact for Native issues and as a liaison between the University and Tribal governments and regional and national tribal organizations. 

Land Grab Website: The University of Arizona Land-Grant Project website brings together the early history of Arizona Territory including Native land cessions, the University of Arizona, and the Morrill land-grant acts and related legislation. In doing so, the Project website also illustrates through interactive maps some 775,012 acres that has thus far identified as having been transferred to the Arizona State Land Trust since statehood for the benefit and enrichment of the University of Arizona to the detriment of Arizona’s Native nations. The team continues to track down and locate land records that are associated with our land-grant status.

Better Practices:

Tribal Microcampus: The UofA microcampus is located next to the Pascua Yaqui reservation and the initial curriculum includes the College of Law’s Indigenous Governance Program’s Masters of Professional Studies degree and the Native Nations Institute’s Continuing Education Certificate in Indigenous Governance. The microcampus features a large classroom, outfitted to accommodate up to 50 students. The classroom includes two large video monitors on portable stands and round tables more suitable for group work.

Indige-FEWSS: This NSF Research Traineeship at the University of Arizona ran from 2017 to 2023 with the aim to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers to work with and within Indigenous communities to address food-energy-water challenges. In partnership with Diné College, the oldest Tribal College & University in the country, the Indigenous Food, Energy & Water Security and Sovereignty program also brought FEWS training to Native American undergraduates and technicians on the Navajo Nation.

Native Nations Institute: This organization supports the nation-rebuilding efforts of Indigenous peoples worldwide as they seek to strengthen their internal governance capacities and realize their own political, economic, and community development objectives.

Office of Native American Advancement & Tribal Engagement: Launched in September 2020, the Office of Native American Advancement & Tribal Engagement’s (NAATE) goal is to increase Native American awareness and increase the health and wellbeing of Native American students, faculty, staff and tribal nations.

Indigenous Resilience Center: The Indigenous Resilience Center (IRes) works on the areas of food, water, and energy with tribes. IRes identifies and looks for resources to support co-designing solutions with Indigenous communities. The Center does this work through extension, research, and teaching.

Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy (IPLP) Program: IPLP’s advocacy projects provide pro-bono legal research and advocacy assistance, internship and clinical placements, and community-based workshops to strengthen tribal self-governance, institution building, and respect for Indigenous peoples’ human rights. IPLP’s clinical work integrates theories of Native knowledge, critical race practice, and Indigenous legal theory with the aim of decolonizing and reforming domestic and international law relating to Indigenous peoples’ rights.

Indigenous Teacher Education Program (ITEP): ITEP is an in-person Bachelor’s Degree granting program that was founded in 2016, through a grant from the US Department of Education. Their mission is to increase the number of Indigenous teachers serving Indigenous students, schools, and communities. Their students graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood or Elementary Education and a teaching certification. 

Tribal Extension Program: The Tribal Extension Program works with the 22 Federally recognized tribes in Arizona who have a land base of more than 30% of the State. There are currently 12 extension agents through this program.

Summary: UW has had an independent American Indian Studies (AIS) program for over 50 years and an AIS department since ~2010. The departmental status was noted as crucial to so much of the programming and success on campus. In ~2015, the Tribal Relations director position was created as a 50% FTE. At the time, this position was filled by the director of the wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House. These positions are now split into two full-time roles. The Intellectual House is a longhouse-style facility on the UW campus. It provides a multi-service learning and gathering space for American Indian and Alaska Native students, faculty and staff, as well as others from various cultures and communities. UW has an in-person and virtual Indigenous Walking tour. 

Director of Tribal Relations: The Director of Tribal Relations serves as the primary point of contact for Tribal issues and acts as a liaison between the University and Tribal governments. The director is responsible for strengthening relationships with Tribal governments in mutually reinforcing and sustainable partnership. This position is within the UW President’s Office and External Affairs and has expanded to include a staff position and a soon-to-be Assistant director of Tribal Relations. The Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies offers several programs to support the recruitment, retention, and success of Native and Indigenous students, staff and faculty: the Native UW Scholars Program, the Native Pathways Program, Knowledge Family Experiences, Summer Institute on Global Indigeneities (SIGI), American Indian & Indigenous Studies (AIIS) Scholars Program, Native Knowledge-in-Residence Program, and the Summer Institute in Indigenous Humanities (SIIH). The UW has a Native American Advisory Board which advises the UW Vice President for Minority Affairs and Diversity. The Indigenous Wellness Research Institute supports decolonizing research through its Indigenous Research Trainees program. The Burke Museum hosts the Waterlines Project which documents the Indigenous histories of the lands and waters on which the university occupies.

Land Grab Website: The University of Arizona Land-Grant Project website brings together the early history of Arizona Territory including Native land cessions, the University of Arizona, and the Morrill land-grant acts and related legislation. In doing so, the Project website also illustrates through interactive maps some 775,012 acres that has thus far identified as having been transferred to the Arizona State Land Trust since statehood for the benefit and enrichment of the University of Arizona to the detriment of Arizona’s Native nations. The team continues to track down and locate land records that are associated with our land-grant status.

Better Practices

MOU between Northwest Regional Tribes and UW: The MOU details the UW’s commitment to the following actions:

  • Annual Tribal Leadership Summit
  • Quarterly Native American Advisory Board Meetings
  • Enhance recruitment and retention efforts for American Indian students, staff and faculty
  • Plan and Construct a longhouse-style facility (completed in 2015)
  • Expand American Indian culture, knowledge, and history into academic curriculum, institutional programs, and university community
  • Strengthen American Indian Studies and related programs/centers as well as utilize frameworks of community based and tribal participatory research models

Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies (CAIIS):  The mission of CAIIS is to support American Indian, Alaska Native, and Indigenous students, faculty, staff, and communities through scholarship, research, teaching, learning, and mentorship that strengthens and builds relationships among the UW and Tribes, First Nations, and other Indigenous peoples. They support a number of programs including the following:

  • Native UW Scholars Program (NUW Scholars): The NUW Scholars cohort will also be part of a year-long two-credit seminar that will build community and help students braid their academic and social life on the UW campus and in Coast Salish lands. Activities include: meeting faculty and staff, campus tours, cultural events, off-site field trips, workshops on financial literacy, library tutorials, introduction to various majors, and other introductions to University systems.
  • Native Pathways Program: Partnerships with two-year and tribal colleges to create pathways for Native transfer students. Working i­n partnership with the Simpson Center partnership with Seattle Colleges, they will expand this effort to connect with Wenatchee Valley College (WVC), the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (Colville), and other two-year and tribal colleges by hosting a bi-annual regional Indigenous Studies Higher Education Pedagogy Summit and promoting the development of new coursework in AIIS. This initiative will also be supporting UW graduate students to teach courses in these institutions. The goals are to create culturally relevant and timely coursework in the region; to increase Native student enrollments; and to facilitate easier transfer pathways to the UW and other four-year colleges in AIIS.
  • Knowledge Family Experiences: Knowledge Families reflects an intergenerational approach to cohort-building. Each Knowledge Family opportunity is designed to connect undergraduate students with faculty mentors who are engaged in AIIS humanities research. Additionally, through a two-week summer program, students will be introduced to Indigenous research methodologies; have access to workshops on conducting archival, ethnographic, and field work; and develop an independent research project. Subsequent to the completion of the course, students will present their independent research projects at the UW Undergraduate Summer Research Symposium, organized by the Office of Undergraduate Research.
  • Summer Institute on Global Indigeneities (SIGI): A week-long intensive graduate seminar focused on professionalization in Indigenous studies. SIGI is a collaboration among scholars from the Universities of Washington (Seattle), British Columbia (Vancouver), California (Los Angeles), Hawai‘i (Mānoa), Minnesota (Twin-Cities), Oregon and Utah. The mission of SIGI is to help graduate students find ways to make their interdisciplinary and decolonial work legible to conventional academic disciplines. Through a series of innovative pedagogies, we generate a set of epistemological, methodological, and professional strategies for the successful completion and dissemination of creative research projects in American Indian and Indigenous Studies.
  • American Indian & Indigenous Studies (AIIS) Scholars Program: A monthly workshop, with the goal of supporting scholars to complete research projects that are key to their professional advancement. AIIS Scholars are selected annually to participate in monthly seminars that showcase their works-in-progress, but the monthly workshops will be open to the entire campus community. Faculty scholars receive one course buy-out or equivalent summer salary, and graduate scholars are supported with research stipends (up to $10,000), designed to support their proposed research initiatives.
  • Native Knowledge-in-Residence Program: This year-long Native knowledge-in-residence program hires a coordinator who supervises research in archives, libraries, and museums, and helps to arrange possible research projects in tribal communities. They host regular knowledge tables, supervise research projects, offer lectures and workshops, develop curricula, and build partnerships with Indian Education programs to create pathways for Native students to the UW. Additionally, this program funds the UW to invite 10 guest speakers, who serve similar functions as the Native Knowledge-in-Residence coordinator, but for shorter periods of time (usually 1-3 days).
  • Summer Institute in Indigenous Humanities (SIIH): SIIH provides training and support to undergraduate students and community partners undertaking humanities research in American Indian and Indigenous Studies.

Indigenous Wellness Research Institute (IWRI): The IWRI works to support the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples to achieve full and complete health and wellness by collaborating in decolonizing research and knowledge building and sharing. 

  • The IWRI has past and present research training programs including on Indigenous HIV/AIDS-related health disparities and substance abuse and addictions related health disparities. 
  • They provide research templates on their website on Data Use Agreements, Code of Ethics & Integrity, Publication and Dissemination guidelines, Student Involvement in Research Teams, Sample Tribal Resolution, and a Sample Research Protocol Code.
  • They also conduct a variety of research projects and have an extensive database of past projects. These research projects include a focus on CBPR, Community Engaged Research, HIV prevention, Kinship caregivers, and more.
  • Their website includes additional educational materials which focus on the principles of partnership which they identify as: Respect, Resilience, Relevance, Reciprocity, Responsibility, Retraditionalization, Revolution, and Reflection

UW Burke Museum Waterlines Project: The Waterlines Project includes a map which is a rendering of the Seattle region in the mid-19th century, just prior to non-Indigenous settlement, created using photorealistic aerial views collaged with hand painting. The map content integrates research from the sciences, natural and cultural histories, and informed imaginings.

The place names on this map, written in the Southern Lushootseed language of the Coast Salish people in the Seattle area, are drawn from elders who worked with ethnographers in the early twentieth century. 

Indigenous Walking Tour: The Indigenous walking tour is a virtual and in-person tour that highlights the many Indigenous programs on-campus and reminds visitors of the Indigenous history and presence of the space. It includes murals, the Longhouse, food sovereignty gardens, and much more.

wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House: Intellectual House is a longhouse-style facility on the UW Seattle campus. It provides a multi-service learning and gathering space for American Indian and Alaska Native students, faculty and staff, as well as others from various cultures and communities to come together in a welcoming environment to share knowledge. When it opened its doors for the first time in 2015, the Intellectual House made history. The building was the culmination of a decades-long dream to create a gathering place in honor of our region’s First Nations. This space has been home to many tribal summits and events, and it has been the site of many other university and community events.


Future Research Directions

This report will be expanded to include additional information including highlighting more universities and understanding more from those universities on the current list. Some of what is sought includes MOUs between Tribes and universities, demographic data, as well as information on Indigenous presence on advisory councils and boards. As all of the LGUs conduct agricultural research and were vital to the, often negative, transformation of Native ecologies, more information should be gathered as to what agricultural colleges are doing to support Native students and Tribal Nations. Furthermore, LGU efforts of landback should be documented. Currently, I am only aware of three examples of landback and these took place at Cal Poly Humboldt, CSU Chico, and the University of Minnesota. Each of these contexts is specific and the exact mechanism of landback differed. Some of the interviewees whom I spoke with did mention that there were landback conversations taking place on their campuses but that it was premature to publicly announce these efforts.