The Land-Grant Act of 1862 was much more than a statute. Also known as the Morrill Act, or the Morrill Land-Grant Act, it transformed higher education in the United States, opening the option of higher education to entire classes of people for whom this was never before an option, such as women and students from socioeconomic backgrounds that were not elite or privileged.
As with any transformation of this scale, however, there was a significant investment cost, and this particular transformation came at a cost to indigenous nations that devastated generations of families, communities, and cultures. This is because the funding mechanism that implemented the Land-Grant Acts involved divesting tribal nations of millions of acres of land and using the proceeds to fund the universities and colleges that have become colloquially known as “land grant colleges.”
This event will briefly explore the vision of Justin Morrill, but will primarily focus on the Land-Grant Acts and the legacy of those statutes for indigenous nations, including a presentation by our keynote speakers, Dr. Robert Lee and Tristan Ahtone, authors of the award-winning research study that explores the historical and modern connections between specific indigenous lands and the universities and colleges they fund. Throughout the day, those in attendance will learn exactly “what happened,” to what degree it is still happening, and will have the opportunity to participate in a collaborative discussion about “what’s next.”
This symposium is a collaboration between The Friends of the Morrill Homestead and Vermont Law and Graduate School.