Land Grab Universities: US Colonialism, the Morrill Act, and Land Back organizing

Type: Virtual Panel
Sponsor Groups: Indigenous Peoples Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 20
Organizers: Meredith Palmer, Andrew Curley
Chairs: Meredith Palmer


In Spring 2020, High Country News published a series of groundbreaking reports detailing the colonial foundations of land-grant universities, with the passage of the Morrill Act of 1862. The “Land Grab University” story (see: showed how land-grant institutions profited from stolen Indigenous lands in nearly every state in the country. The report sparked a groundswell of interest throughout the US, and today there are efforts underway across the country to hold these institutions accountable to the Indigenous peoples and nations whose land and lives are the material basis of their standing and their endowments.

This panel will bring together scholars based at Land Grant institutions who are organizing with other faculty, students, and Indigenous peoples and communities to hold these institutions accountable. Short presentations will cover grounded historical contexts of land grant universities and Indigenous dispossession and genocide, areas of research and critical analysis that are needed, and organizing strategies for collaborating with tribal and Indigenous nations and opening opportunities for co-management and land transfers. The virtual session will end with a discussion on how to coordinate across campuses and bring the topic into geography.

Panelists hold expertise in areas including Indigenous geography, political ecology, dispossession and colonialism, and Native American studies. Panelists include: Meredith Alberta Palmer (Cornell University; Tuscarora, Six Nations), Andrew Curley (University of Arizona; Navajo), Jennifer Rose Smith (UW Madison; dAXunhyuu, Alaska Native), Beth Rose Middleton (UC Davis), Kathleen C. Whiteley (UC Davis; Wiyot Tribe), and Deondre Smiles (Ohio State University; Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe).


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Panelist Meredith Palmer UC Berkeley 12 3:05 PM
Panelist Andrew Curley University of Arizona - Geography & Development 12 3:17 PM
Panelist Jen Rose Smith 12 3:29 PM
Panelist Kat Whiteley University of California - Davis 12 3:41 PM
Panelist Deondre Smiles The Ohio State University 12 3:53 PM
Panelist Beth Rose Middleton Manning UC Davis 12 4:05 PM

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