Examining Land-Grant Universities’ Colonial History

Land Grab CT LogoThe project team of “Land Grab CT,” an interactive website produced by UConn’s Greenhouse Studios in conjunction with the Native American Cultural Programs (NACP) and Native American and Indigenous Students Association (NAISA), will facilitate two engaging events during the second week of October for Indigenous Peoples’ Week:

The NACP and NAISA will host Tristan Ahtone and Bobby Lee, creators of the Land Grab U project,  as keynote speakers, which will be held virtually via Zoom on Thursday, October 14th, 2021 at 4pm.

The Encounters Series will facilitate a dialogue titled Encounters: Land Grab CT: A Dialogue on UConn’s Colonial History, which will be held virtually via Zoom on Friday, October 15th, 2021 at 12-2pm. Registration will be capped at 40 participants.

The keynote event will address the wealth and land accumulation built through the dispossession of Indigenous people and how they are tied to the Land Grant university system through the Morrill Act of 1862. Rather than the common panel discussion with a standard question and answer pattern, the keynote will preempt the in-depth, participatory Encounters Series dialogue, which will take place on the following day. The dialogue event will be held virtually the next day in conjunction with the Democracy and Dialogues initiative of Dodd Impact and the Human Rights Institute.  Both events are open to the UConn Community and the dialogue is capped at 40 participants. Participants can register for one or both events here. Members of the UConn community are also encouraged to further explore these themes through the Land Grab CT website, which will launch on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Monday, October 11th. 

Land Grab CT builds off the work of LandGrab U, which focuses on the expropriation of Indigenous land as the foundation of the land-grant university system. Through this lens, Land Grab CT assesses how UConn acquired the land it currently occupies, aims to educate the general public about the impact of land-grant universities and the system of land acquisition by the US Government, and strives to inspire UConn’s administration to invest in prospective and current Indigenous students. This project was conceptualized by Dr. Glenn Mitoma, Sage Phillips, and Kiara Ruesta in early 2021, and brought to Greenhouse Studios for continued development. The website was produced over the last six months as an almost entirely virtual collaboration with the intention of serving as a springboard for reflection, critical thinking, discussion, and action.

The site features two interactive timelines and vignettes of land parcels tied to UConn. The National Timeline explores patterns and policies the U.S. government implemented to erode the sovereignty and agency of Indigenous peoples and their relationship with their territory to bring land into the financial system. The Connecticut Timeline gives a glimpse into how the state was formed and how UConn received its land-grant status. Users may also take a deeper look at some of the parcels of land from which UConn continues to benefit. 

The Land Grab CT team, Greenhouse Studios, and speakers Bobby Lee and Tristan Ahtone look forward to engaging with you during these events. We strongly encourage attendance at the Keynote Event preemptively of the Dialogue, however there will also be a recording of the Keynote available. If you would like to participate, please register here.