As you’ve hopefully read in the American Indian and Indigenous Studies (AIIS) Land Acknowledgement, Michigan State University occupies Land ceded in the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw. This Fall semester marked 200 years since this land cession. As such, the past academic year has proven to be a busy one, as those of us in AIIS have continued to make sure that students, faculty, staff, and the outside community know the history and presence of Native peoples at MSU.
Importantly, since we wrote a Land Acknowledgement for MSU in Fall 2018, we have seen this declaration being used by various constituencies at the University and, in fact, it has quickly been integrated into various aspects of institutional life. For instance, AIIS-community-member Emily Sorroche read it at this Fall’s University Convocation and it was offered to incoming students at last summer’s University’s Academic Orientation Program (AOP). In fact, the Land Acknowledgement is still prominently displayed in the display cases in the entryways of Snyder-Phillips Hall where the Residential College of Arts and Humanities is located. Moreover, the Land Acknowledgement is now being read at various departmental events and many faculty include it in their course syllabi.
Hopefully, what we are witnessing is part of an institutional change where American Indian and Indigenous students, communities, governments, and issues are central to the concerns of the university. Throughout its growing usage, of which we are excited and honored, we ask that you not forget the section on our website titled “Land Acknowledgments are a Responsibility.” Accordingly, we ask those of you offering these important statements, to “remember that these Acknowledgements must be preceded by relationships with living Indigenous people, communities, and nations. This declaration must then be followed with ongoing commitments to these same communities. Land Acknowledgements are a responsibility.” They are about each of looking inward and understand our own positionalities.
Edweying Naabing // Looking at the Past and Present
This past September, American Indian and Indigenous Studies collaborated with the Native American Institute and the Indigenous Law and Policy Center to host Edweying Naabing // Looking at the Past and Present, a two-day event commemorating (but not celebrating) two-hundred years since the signing of the Treaty of Saginaw. Edweying Naabing // Looking at the Past and Present was part of a series of programming designed to raise awareness about the history of the Land on which MSU resides and how the past shapes our present and future.
The symposium addressed how MSU, and universities in general, must work equitably with Anishinaabeg (and other Indigenous peoples) according to the interests and needs of Indigenous communities. Through the Symposium, individuals at MSU affirmed Indigenous sovereignty and sought to hold Michigan State University accountable to the needs of American Indian and Indigenous peoples. The Symposium consisted of approximately 30 speakers and panelists over a two-day period and attracted prospective students, their families, current students, alumni, and community members at large.
The ongoiung persistence of a vibrant, urban Anishinaabe community with dozens of Anishinaabemowin language speakers in Nkwejong // Lansing-area reflects the importance of Indigenous survival in urban spaces. By hosting Edweying Naabing // Looking at the Past and Present, we honored ongoing Indigenous presence, as well as the many thriving communities throughout the Great Lakes region. The Symposium focused on Indigenous histories, presence, and futures on Anishinaabewaki and across Turtle Island. In doing so, we looked at the past and present to imagine the future, promoting cultural education within the University community and beyond.
As we simultaneously look toward the future and toward the past, what elder Alphonse Pitawanakwat calls Edweying Naabing, I want to call your attention the the impressive new Graduate Certification in Indigenous Studies, which was approved to begin this past semester at Michigan State University. A big Miigwetch // Maarsii to all the students, community folx, faculty, staff, and tribal leaders who made this possible.
The Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Studies is open to all MSU graduate students in any discipline. We invite you to contact us to enroll in the program.
As we move forward, we hope to eventually make this certificate a stand-alone graduate program. As Turtle Island’s first “Land-grant university”, we believe that Michigan State University must be a leader in working with and for sovereign Indigenous nations, as well as offering undergraduate, graduate, and non-degree programs about Indigenous issues and supporting Indigenous peoples. With the new Graduate Certificate, we are moving in this direction.
Dylan Miner, Director
Mnidoo-giizis // Spirit Moon – 13 January 2020
During the Fall semester, American Indian and Indigenous Studies is doing our best to offer co-curricular programming online via Zoom and other means. Please contact Dr. Dylan Miner with any inquiries.
DO TO THE PANDEMIC, WE WILL NOT BE IN THE OFFICE THIS FALL
American Indian and Indigenous Studies is located in the Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture building, Rooms 105, 106 and 107.