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The Office of Multicultural Affairs collaborates with partners across the university and beyond to cultivate a campus community in which historically oppressed communities can succeed and thrive at GVSU. We work to ensure that students, faculty, and staff can find a deep sense of belonging on our campus. In our work, we center those who are oppressed including Indigenous people. We are committed to unlearning settler colonial frameworks and learning wise practices that center Indigenous knowledge and culture. We are committed to allocating resources, both financial and staff / student positions, for Indigenous programming, furthering Indigenous student support, fostering community partnerships, and developing intersectional events that cultivate Indigenous allyship.
Today, we would like to recognize the People of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Bodawademi peoples on whose land we are gathered on today. The Three Fires People are Indigenous to this land which means that this is their ancestral territory. Every university in this country was built on Indigenous land. We conduct land acknowledgments as a reminder of the histories, teachings, traditions, and the first people who originated here and who tend to Mshkiikii (land/earth) always.
We conduct these acknowledgments to be good visitors, as these were always done before colonial contact. To continue to be good visitors, we have the responsibility to learn about the history of settler colonialism and its impact on Indigenous people.
As a higher education institution, we have a responsibility to understand the relationship between settler colonialism and education. With the Indian Civilization Act of 1819, began the theft of Native American children. In Michigan, there were three federally-funded boarding schools, where the mission of these residential/boarding schools was to “kill the Indian, but save the man.” The last one, The Holy Childhood of Jesus, located in Harbor Springs was closed in 1983. Anishinaabek communities still experience the impact from these boarding schools. Many public schools have benefitted from the land-grant treaties that used Indigenous territory to build public universities. While GVSU has not benefitted from land grants, we are aware of the Treaty of 1836 that stipulates monies for education and supplies to be produced in their language and be provided to communities. Indigenous people fought for access to K-12 and higher education. At OMA, we understand that when Indigenous students pursue a formal, western education that they carry with them the trauma of boarding schools and settler colonial educational practices. Our goal is to tell these stories and to create a sense of belonging for Indigenous students by connecting Indigenous students with Indigenous community members, faculty, and staff for their educational and cultural growth.
We urge you to join us in learning more about the 500 years of settler-colonialism that has taken place in this country. Most of us have much to learn about the Indigenous people, their knowledge, and their ways of being and to take action to make our communities more just for Indigenous people and communities.
Below are some resources, please stop by the Offices of Multicultural Affairs for more resources or to learn more about our programming and service to our Indigenous students.