The Department of Mechanical Engineering acknowledges that the research and education at the University of Michigan is indebted to the Wyandot and Anishinaabeg (including the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Bodewadmi). In 1817, these nations ceded land in the Treaty at the Foot of the Rapids (also known as the Treaty of Fort Meigs), with the understanding that their children would be provided with educational opportunities. Proceeds from the sale of this land funded the origins of the University of Michigan. Yet records indicate that the university has not realized the treaty’s promise. For the next 130 years, few or no Native Americans were enrolled at the university. Representation remains low to this day. As members of the university and engineering community, the choices we now make about our work and in our interactions with others will determine how far our institutional and disciplinary futures depart from their exclusionary past.
Below are some starting places for learning about the University of Michigan’s origins; about the relationship of higher education to settler colonialism; about organizations that support Indigenous scientists and engineers; and about ways to resist colonialism in science, technology, engineering, and medicine (STEM).
For an example guide to pronouncing the names of the nations listed in the above land acknowledgment, please visit this Northern Illinois University webpage.
Resources and Readings
- CLEAR (n.d.) Anti-colonial science: CLEAR is a feminist and anti-colonial laboratory. But what does that mean?.
- NYC Stands with Standing Rock Collective. (2016). “#StandingRockSyllabus.”
- Steeh, J. (2002). Plaque honors land gift from three Native American tribes. The University Record.
- Stein, S. (2019). Confronting colonialism in US higher education: More questions to consider. Medium.
- Stevens, S. (2021). Higher Education Must Be Decolonized Through Study and Struggle: A Q&A With Leigh Patel, author of No Study Without Struggle. Penguin Random House.
- Stewart, D. (2020). Twisted at the Roots: The Intransigence of Inequality in U.S. Higher Education. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 52(2).
- Tuck, E., & Yang, K. W. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1(1).
- University of Michigan (2002). University celebrates history of land gift from Native Americans.
- University of Iowa Native American Council UI Land Acknowledgement
- University of Michigan Office of the Registrar Enrollment Reports
Organizations and Departments
- Advancing Indigenous People in STEM (AISES)
- Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS; University of Michigan SACNAS Chapter)
- Tribal College: Journal of American Indian Higher Education
- University of Michigan Native American Studies