Debts, ethics, and redress: Moving Land Grab University work forward

Dr. Meredith Alberta Palmer (Six Nations Tuscarora), Cornell Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow

In early 2020, an investigative report on “Land Grab Universities” was released by High Country News, detailing how the dispossession of hundreds of Indigenous Peoples of their lands provided the seed money for the founding of the United States land grant university system, instated first in 1865. Since then, a number of responses have emerged from within universities, from research on the topic, to demands for redress. If Indigenous dispossession is not merely “taking property,” but overlaying settler sovereignty on Indigenous homelands through a long and violent process, then how does one calculate for debts owed by those who have profited and benefited from US imperialism? This talk will give a background to the Land Grab University history and contemporary responses, contextualize Cornell University within this discussion, and present some frameworks, building on Indigenous feminist analytics, for moving these responses forward.

This lecture was given at Cornell University on September 10, 2021 as a part of AIIS 6010: Speaker Series hosted by Professor Jolene Rickard (Ska:rù:rę’/Tuscarora).