Journalists discuss history of ‘land grabbed’ universities at press freedom conference

In “Land Grab Universities”, the 2022 Conference on Freedom of the Press by Daniel W. Kopsjournalist Tristan Ahtone, a member of the Kiowa tribe, and historian Robert Lee will explain how indigenous lands expropriated by the Morrill Act of 1862 formed the basis of the university land-grant system.

The conference, which will expand on their 2020 investigative reporting in High Country News, will take place September 13 at 5:15 p.m. in the Wing Conference Room, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. A ticket is required to attend in person, one ticket per request. The conference will also be streamed live by eCornell.

“The American Studies Program is honored to welcome Tristan Ahtone and Robert Lee as Kops Lecturers on Freedom of the Press,” said Shirley Samuels, director of the American Studies Program and Professor of English Literature at the College. of Arts and Sciences. “Their investigation into the origins of America’s land-grant universities continues to spark self-examination and action in land-grant institutions. By inviting them to Cornell, we welcome a thoughtful discussion of the history of the relationship between Indigenous communities and settlers, and between the land and higher education.

Ahtone and Lee co-wrote the March 30, 2020 investigation of “land grabbed universities” in High Country News, piecing together how the United States used nearly 11 million acres of Indigenous territory taken from nearly 250 tribes, bands, and communities to initiate land subsidizing the university system in 1862. The act redistributed an area larger than Massachusetts and Connecticut combined, Ahone and Lee reported.

Read the full story on the College of Arts and Sciences website.

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