The Morrill Land-Grant Acts and Tribal Lands: What Happened, What's Next

This symposium is a collaboration between The Friends of the Morrill Homestead and Vermont Law and Graduate School.

Event Description:

The Land-Grant Act of 1862 was much more than a statute. Also known as the Morrill Act, or the Morrill Land-Grant Act, it transformed higher education in the United States, opening the option of higher education to entire classes of people for whom this was never before an option, such as women and students from socioeconomic backgrounds that were not elite or privileged. As with any transformation of this scale, however, there was a significant investment cost, and this particular transformation came at a cost to indigenous nations that devastated generations of families, communities, and cultures. This is because the funding mechanism that implemented the Land-Grant Acts involved divesting tribal nations of millions of acres of land and using the proceeds to fund the universities and colleges that have become colloquially known as "land grant colleges." This event will briefly explore the vision of Justin Morrill, but will primarily focus on the Land-Grant Acts and the legacy of those statutes for indigenous nations, including a presentation by our keynote speakers, Dr. Robert Lee and Tristan Ahtone, authors of the award-winning research study that explores the historical and modern connections between specific indigenous lands and the universities and colleges they fund. Throughout the day, those in attendance will learn exactly "what happened," to what degree it is still happening, and will have the opportunity to participate in a collaborative discussion about "what's next."


Tristan Ahtone Robert Lee Hillary Hoffmann Twyla Baker Rich Holschuh


Saturday, September 10

8:30   Check-in opens

9:00   Welcome and Land acknowledgement (NALSA)

9:10   Introduction to Justin Morrill and the Land-grant Acts
Tracey McFadden, Director, Friends of the Morrill Homestead

9:25   The Legislative Landscape Surrounding the Land-Grant Act of 1862
Hillary Hoffman, Co-Director, Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition

9:50   break

The Justin Morrill Homestead

10:00   Keynote Presentation: Land Grab Universities: Recent Past, Present, and Future of Indigenous Dispossession
Tristan Ahtone (Kiowa), Editor at Large, Grist
Robert "Bobby" Lee, Assistant Professor of History, University of Cambridge

11:00   Impacts of the Land-Grant Acts on Tribal Colleges
Twyla Baker, President, Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College

11:45   break

11:55   "What's Next" - Panel Discussion with the speakers
Tristan Ahtone (Kiowa), Editor at Large, Grist
Robert "Bobby" Lee, Assistant Professor of History, University of Cambridge
Hillary Hoffman, Co-Director, Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition
Rich Holschuh, Spokesperson, Elnu Abenaki tribe

12:55   Closing

3:00-5:00   Reception and Guided House Tours at the Justin Morrill Homestead in Strafford


Registration is now closed.

With thanks to our sponsors: