Petition to Support NAISAC Demands

Hiawatha belt picture
Hiawatha Belt; picture credit Onondaga Nation (

by Native American and Indigenous Students at Cornell (NAISAC)

Cornell University was founded on Indigenous dispossession and genocide. To this day, the University upholds a tradition of profiting from acts of colonial violence and Indigenous erasure. In order to begin to rectify these crimes, the members of Native American and Indigenous Students At Cornell put forward these demands:

1. The American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program shall transition to department status; this transition is to be completed within the next four years.

2. Increased funding shall be granted to the AIISP for the recruitment and retention of new Indigenous faculty members, to support the transition of the program to department status. A minimum of five new faculty members shall be hired within the next four years.

3. Increased funding shall be granted to the AIISP to support increased recruitment and retention efforts of Indigenous students. In 2017, there were only 67 Native Americans enrolled across all colleges, undergraduate and graduate. We only make up 0.3% of the overall Cornell student population. We demand that the number of enrolled Native American/Alaska Native students be increased to 1.7% of the total Cornell student population, equal to the percentage of Native American/Alaska Natives in the United States. The University shall make efforts to increase the number of enrolled Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students to 1.0% of the total student population. In order to support increased rates of retention, an additional staff member shall be hired to separate the duties of recruitment and retention efforts within the AIISP. Recruitment conducted by the University shall focus on Indigenous students from communities historically affected and/or displaced by the Morrill Land Grant Act. Any student coming from a community affected and/or displaced by the Morrill Land Grant Act shall receive a free education, regardless of field of study.

4. An Indigenous therapist will be hired by Cornell Health, to aid in addressing the unique mental health struggles affecting Indigenous students, staff, and faculty.

5. The University shall include a land acknowledgement of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ (Cayuga) people before all Ithaca-based University-affiliated events. The land acknowledgement used will be the AIISP-approved version.

6. The University shall put out a statement acknowledging the amount of land acquired, interest accrued, and mineral rights funds received through the Morrill Land Act and thus through Indigenous dispossession. The University shall commit to a policy of refraining from mineral and resource extraction on lands gained through the Morrill Land Grant Act.

7. The University shall return all lands in the Ithaca area not immediately utilized for educational purposes to the traditional Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ leadership. The University shall build and maintain channels of communication with the traditional Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ leadership until the land return process is complete.

8. To ensure that all students have a basic understanding of the gravity of Indigenous genocide and their own positionality on stolen Indigenous land, the University shall mandate that all students take an introductory Indigenous Studies course during their first year of study.

9. To ensure that monuments to historical figures of colonization and violence against Indigenous people are removed, the University shall rename Morrill Hall on the Arts Quad. Consultation with AIISP Faculty and Students in the renaming is required.

10. The Ad-Hoc Committee on Native American Affairs shall be reinstituted to oversee the approval of these demands. The Committee shall be made up of Indigenous students, staff, faculty, local Indigenous leadership, and delegates from University administration.

To sign the petition, please visit the Google Form here.