Native American Land Gift Historical Marker Dedication
Plaza between the Biology and Chemistry Buildings
12noon, Thursday, November 21, 2002
Before beginning my remarks, I would like to acknowledge Andrew Adams, III, a doctoral student in American Culture and an employee of our Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives. For several years, Andrew has been a driving force in bringing the Native American community's concerns to the fore at the University of Michigan. And, most recently, he has served as a leader in facilitating this commemoration and the related seminar and lecture. I would also like to thank Vice President for Student Affairs Royster Harper and Steven Abbott, Native American Coordinator in the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs — both of whom have been most supportive to these efforts.
To focus fully on the gift we honor today, I would like to read to you the words of the plaque Regent White has just dedicated. The plaque, which memorializes the Native American Land Gift to the University of Michigan in 1817, reads:
"This plaque commemorates the grant of lands from the Ojibwa, Odawa, and Bodewadimi through the Treaty of Fort Meigs, which states that 'believing they may wish some of their children hereafter educated [they] do grant to the rector of the Catholic church of St. Anne of Detroit..., and to the corporation of the college at Detroit, for the use of the said college, to be retained or sold, as the rector and corporation may judge expedient...' The rector was Gabriel Richard, a founder and first vice president of the corporation of the college, chartered by the territorial legislature as the University of Michigania in 1817. These lands were eventually sold to the benefit of the University of Michigan, which was relocated to Ann Arbor in 1837."
While these words speak to the past, today we are walking together into the future. As we embark on that walk, the University is reaching out to our current student leaders, staff, and faculty to reaffirm and strengthen our commitment to Native American students and communities.
We are on the right path to the enhancement of our Native American faculty and academic programs, and we have worked hard in student recruitment and retention. But we can do better, and we will.
Several years ago,
a young woman of the Cheyenne Nation, a former student of mine, taught me
much about, and deepened my own personal
the dynamics between the Indian and non-Indian worlds. I will always
be grateful to her and remain enriched for having known her. Similarly,
community is made more complete, at all levels, by the presence
of those who preceded us and who live, work, and study along side us
this truth and my commitment to its fulfillment are unwavering.