FARGO — North Dakota State University is taking several steps to recognize Native American culture, with plans to display tribal flags on campus and finalize in the fall a statement that acknowledges the school sits on land once occupied by Indigenous people.
Per President Dean Bresciani’s orders, the university has established a committee of 11 faculty, staff and students who will develop a land acknowledgment statement, an NDSU official said Thursday, Sept. 3, during a Fargo Native American Commission meeting.
Laura Oster-Aaland, NDSU vice provost for student affairs and enrollment management, told the commission that seven members who sit on the NDSU committee she co-chairs are Native American.
“We want this statement to be a statement of relationship to help us with that relationship with our Indigenous people,” she said. “We also understand that action needs to follow these words.”
The committee also is working toward displaying tribal flags at the Memorial Union, Oster-Aaland said.
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She announced the Grandmother Earth’s Gift of Life Garden will be relocated to near the horticulture research and demonstration gardens, which sit at the southwest entrance of campus. Initially created in 2009, the Grandmother Earth’s Garden was moved from near the Union to make way for the Sugihara Hall project, a science building that will replace Dunbar Hall.
Some universities and colleges around the U.S. have issued statements acknowledging their campuses are on land where Native Americans once lived. This year, the North Dakota State College of Science became the first public school in the state to reveal an official land acknowledgment statement, followed by the University of North Dakota.
Several NDSU employees started the process last year. Bresciani announced his support for a land acknowledgment statement in late July when he laid out a list of actions he wanted the school to take to improve diversity on campus.