University of Minnesota Duluth American Indian Studies Affirmation  of the TRUTH Report

Affirmation of the TRUTH Report | University of Minnesota Duluth American Indian Studies

Towards Recognition and University-Tribal Healing (TRUTH)
Oshkigin Noojimo'iwe, Oshkigin Noojimo'iwe,
Naġi Waƞ P̣ẹetu Uƞ Ihduwaṡ'ake He Oyate Kiƞ Naġi Waƞ P̣etu Uƞ Ihduwaṡ'ake He Oyate Kiƞ
Zaniwicạ̣ yeKte Zaniwicạ ye Kte

The Department of American Indian Studies (AIS) at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) expresses our deep gratitude to the Tribal Research Fellows and the TRUTH Project core team of An Garagiola, Audrianna Goodwin, and Misty Blue. We honor the ongoing history illuminated in the groundbreaking report and acknowledge the continued harm that the University causes to Indigenous Nations and people.

Like many people, when we consider and talk with one another about the recommendations that the TRUTH report makes to the University, we may have a tendency to think about “the University” as administrators and Regents. Yet we must also acknowledge (and assert) that UMD AIS faculty, staff, and students are integral components of the University and that we are therefore deeply implicated in the report and accountable to its recommendations.

While unfortunately, our department does not have the decision-making authority or access to funding necessary to implement the recommendations across the scope and scale needed, we are nevertheless pursuing several ongoing initiatives that are responsive to and informed by the recommendations. These efforts have been undertaken and maintained through consultation with Native nations, and include:

  • Delivery of the undergraduate B.A. and minor in American Indian Studies.
  • Delivery of the undergraduate B.A. in Tribal Administration and Governance.
  • Delivery of the Master of Tribal Administration and Governance.
  • Delivery of the Master of Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship.
  • Delivery of a graduate certificate in Tribal Sovereignty and Federal Indian Law.
  • Delivery of a graduate certificate in Tribal Administration and Leadership.
  • Delivery of a graduate certificate in Indigenous Environmental Systems and Resource Management.
  • Delivery of a graduate certificate in Tribal Natural Resource Stewardship, Economics, and Law.
  • Operation of the UMD Tribal Sovereignty Institute (TSI) whose mission is to promote tribal sovereignty through education, outreach, research, tribal consultation and partnerships with Native Nations. Recent and ongoing projects of the TSI include:
    • Delivery, in partnership with the Minnesota American Indian Affairs Council and the State of Minnesota, of the Tribal-State Relations Training program.
    • Delivery of the professional Certificate in Tribal Administration and Governance for tribal staff, administrators, and leadership.
    • Collaborative development and publication of the Tribal Administration Handbook.
    • Convening the TSI Applied Governance Symposium.
    • Collaboration with the Native Governance Center to update and reconfigure delivery of their Native Nation Rebuilders program.
  • Delivery of various courses that serve UMD students from across campus and build awareness and respect for Native nations and tribal sovereignty.
  • Numerous faculty research projects that are resonant and responsive to the needs and ambitions of Native nations and Indigenous peoples.

We strongly support all recommendations outlined in the TRUTH Report and recognize that there are some areas in which we are poised to make significant contributions. As we discern and clarify our departmental perspective regarding what fulfillment of TRUTH report recommendations would look like at UMD, we implore, compel, and demand that UMD and system-wide administrators and leadership take quick, committed, and meaningful action.

As a starting point, we have emphasized below several of the recommendations contained within the TRUTH Report, followed by the role(s) that AIS can play:

TRUTH Report Recommendation: The University of Minnesota should be a national leader in Native American programs. The Board of Regents must adopt measurable policies that remedy the lack of Indigenous representation in administration, tenure-track faculty, staff, and students on all UMN campuses.

  • We seek instructional stability for all of the degree programs we currently offer. We have a strong reliance on term faculty in several programs and request the reinstatement of two tenure track/tenured lines as well as one additional line to ensure both stability and quality instruction throughout our suite of degree programs.
  • We seek the restoration of and perpetual commitment to an adequate budget for the recruitment and retention of Indigenous students for AIS degree and non-degree programs.
  • We seek the resources needed to conduct a consultation for the creation of an undergraduate degree in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship and the faculty lines needed to deliver the program.
  • We seek the restoration of the 50% staff position cut in 2019 and, additionally, for the position to be expanded by 50% to include community outreach and consultation, student support, and administrative support for Tribal Sovereignty Institute (TSI) initiatives.
  • We implore the UMD to strengthen relationships with the regional Tribal and community colleges. It is imperative that we ensure students have a clear and supportive pathway from a Tribal college to UMD. We seek the creation of dual-admission agreements, a waiver of the typical application fee, and access to early academic and student life advising.

TRUTH Report Recommendation: Full cost of attendance waiver for all Indigenous peoples and descendants regardless of state of residence.

  • We implore the University to adopt a policy waiving full cost of attendance for all Indigenous students. This includes degree (undergraduate and graduate) and non-degree programs for all Indigenous students at the Duluth campus.

TRUTH Report Recommendation: Fully-funded non-credit professional development certificate training programs for American Indians, tribal government staff, and tribal leaders.

  • We seek reliable continued funding to offer and deliver the non-credit Certificate in Tribal Administration and Governance (CTAG) program on an annual basis.

TRUTH Report Recommendation: Indigenous curriculum requirements for all degree programs.

  • Any new Indigenous curriculum requirement for all degree programs should be housed in AIS and primarily taught by tenure track/tenured faculty with lines in AIS. There should be appropriate course releases for a faculty member to direct this initiative.

TRUTH Report Recommendation: The University of Minnesota has a moral obligation to finance research that maximizes the benefits to Tribal Nations and Indigenous people.

  • We seek an annual departmental pool of funds to support research, scholarship, and creative activity.

We look forward to discussing how our work on these critical endeavors in AIS will be supported by the administration. We know that this is not easy work but it is essential as the University of Minnesota Duluth begins to address the findings of the TRUTH Report and takes action to implement the recommendations.

Learn more about the TRUTH Project

Read the full TRUTH Project Report (PDF)

Read the Executive Summary of the TRUTH Project Report (PDF)

Read the Twin Cities Statement of the Department of American Indian Studies on the TRUTH Report and Demands


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