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University of Minnesota Initiative Seeks to Face School’s Fraught History with Tribal Nations

A new University of Minnesota initiative seeks to reckon with the school’s tumultuous history with tribal nations and teach people about racial justice, Star Tribune reported.

University Of Minnesota E1610649164177The Minnesota Transform initiative will work with Black, Indigenous and immigrant people to present stories, “revitalize” Indigenous languages and report – together with the tribes – on the school’s relationship with Native Americans.

The initiative – funded over three years with a $5 million Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant – was sparked by the 2020 social justice protests, according to UM leaders.

One example of UM’s wrongdoings with tribes is the medical experimentation it did on people of the Red Lake Reservation during the Cold War, said Tadd Johnson, the university’s senior director of tribal nations relations.

“All these negative things happened to the tribes, many of which accrued to the benefit of the university,” said Johnson. He added that UM was built on Dakota land ceded in the treaties of 1837 and 1851.

The initiative – through exhibits – will also inform people about the protests following the killing of George Floyd and will work with UM faculty to create better class environments for underrepresented students.

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