The University of Minnesota is still benefiting from its historic exploitation of Native Americans living in Minnesota. That’s according to a report from researchers within the U of M’s own American Indian Studies department.
“The very founding of the University of Minnesota, and then just finding out more the mechanisms that they used to circulate that wealth through the university as a shell corporation, so they were able to receive the lands from the federal government after they had violently taken them. And then they were able to sell those lands, and then the sale of those lands was to be held in perpetuity by the University of Minnesota. But what that means is that it just needs to be reflected in the books. And so that, that large number that is the permanent university fund, you know, they’re investing parts of that bond in different areas, and then the interest that is accrued from those different investments then becomes discretionary funding for the University of Minnesota,” said Audrianna Goodwin, a U of M American Indian Studies research fellow from the Red Lake Nation who contributed to the TRUTH report published this April.
The report is the product of a collaboration between. the U’s Office of American Indian and Tribal Nations Relations, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC), and the state’s 11 recognized tribal governments. Together, they formed the Native-led TRUTH or, Towards Recognition and University-Tribal Healing, Project.
The TRUTH Report details findings from the university’s own records. And, Goodwin says that as a land-grant institution, the U of M has systematically profited from exploiting and harming Indigenous people.
“So the Board of Regents really,[…], they were able to scout lands in advance and then kind of lobby the federal government and insert themselves as treaty negotiators, and oftentimes treaty signers and we know that treaties, you know, were coercive and violence backed and that that violence was all connected to the university.…what choices the founding board of regents made to commit genocide, intentional acts, and for the sole purpose of garnering more wealth for not just the institution but also for themselves.” said An Garagiola, a descendent of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, and the University coordinator and a lead researcher on the Truth Project.
She says the land-grant university – sometimes called “land-grab university” – has not yet discussed the report’s findings with TRUTH Project researchers, member tribes, or the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council at the time this story was produced.
But, after the TRUTH report was published, the U made plans to cut its American Indian Studies program, according to the University of Minnesota chapter of Students for a Democratic Society.
“There was an announcement made this week that the College of Liberal Arts had made plans to cut the budget of American Indian studies by 50%. And our report shows that not only is that department consistently and persistently underfunded, but the funds that the department does make are funneled to support other non-Indigenous departments and initiatives through the College of Liberal Arts. So it is a continuation of that same exploitation and extraction that the university has been profiteering from on the backs of indigenous people since 1851,” said Garagiola.
In a statement to MN Native News, the University of Minnesota said
“While documenting the past, the TRUTH Report also provides guidance as to how the University can solidify lasting relationships with Tribes and Indigenous peoples built on respect, open communication and action. As we engage in the important discussions that will now follow, that guidance will be invaluable.”
Isavela Lopez reporting for Minnesota Native News
Access the full report here: https://sites.google.com/view/truthproject/research/report
For more on the TRUTH Project report, listen to interviews with project members Misty Blue and Audrianna Goodwin. Check back for more in the coming weeks too.
This week on Minnesota Native News, we have a new documentary in an Ampers series to tell you about. Decoded is about Native veterans from Minnesota who used tribal languages to help win World War II. De-Coded is hosted by Travis Zimmerman. He’s site manager at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post. He’s …
American Indian Month in Minnesota continues this May. And, this weekend’s a busy one.
Native Lights is a weekly, half-hour radio program hosted by Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe members and siblings, Leah Lemm and Cole Premo. Native Lights is a space for people in Native communities around Mni Sota Mkoce — a.k.a. Minnesota — to tell their stories about finding their gifts and sharing them with the community. …
. Audrianna shares her outlook as a ‘dreamer’ and how family and community helped her along her path. She explains her TRUTH Project research that examines medical research done to Red Lake children by the University of Minnesota and how Indigenous-led research is vital to healing and recognition.
Subscribe to Minnesota Native News in your favorite podcast app
- Headlines 2/29/24This week’s headlines include The Return of the Cloquet Forestry Center Lands, a newly available Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relative’s license plate, and the showing of Bear Grease, an Indigenous …
- The MMIWR March in Minneapolis Calls on the Community to Spread Awareness, Healing, and RemembranceFor nearly a decade, the Minneapolis Native community has gathered in the East Phillips neighborhood to keep the missing or murdered Indigenous relatives in the collective consciousness. All too often, …