The TRUTH Reports core team from left to right: Misty Blue, An Garagolia, and Audrianna Goodwin (Via Abby Travis)
A team of indigenous researchers released a report Tuesday detailing how the University of Minnesota engaged in genocidal treatment of native people since its founding in 1851.
The TRUTH report is a collaborative effort by the 11 tribes in the state, and outlines the abuses that the University’s Board of Regents, from its founding, has perpetrated against native people.
“It really starts to challenge the invisibility that we as indigenous people have been facing for centuries,” Research Assistant Audrianna Goodwin said. “It talks about our erasure from academic literature and from the narrative.”
According to the report, abuses included coercing tribes out of nearly 200,000 acres of land. Goodwin says none of the financial profit the university gained from that land which, accounting for inflation, is over $191 million in revenue, has gone to help indigenous tribes recover from food or water insecurity, or to help bridge educational gaps.
She also noted that the University has continued to whitewash or ignore indigenous history in Minnesota. Specifically, the report says the term “land grant” erases what was actually a “land grab.”
The report also states that the founders of the University passed anti-indigenous legislation that led to the forced removal of native tribes.
“The reason this history has been buried so long is because of revisionist history,” Research Coordinator Misty Blue said. “People want to put their own spin on it … but really what happened was forced removal, was genocide.”
The United Nations defines genocide as a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or in part. Research Assistant An Garagiola says the University of Minnesota’s actions fit every category.
The report concludes that the University must take steps to acknowledge the harm done and repair the relationship it has with native tribes. That includes returning land to tribes, allocating reparations in perpetuity for the resources taken, and providing more opportunities for native instructors in leadership positions and providing more support for native students.
The university has not yet committed to implementing those steps, but said that the report will be “invaluable” in future discussions.