Brown University has adopted a formal land recognition policy and will work to expand educational access for Native Americans, the university announced Tuesday.
Naraganset on Brown Road Island is the ancestral home of the Indian tribe. Land Recognition Naraganset recognizes land colonization and tribal occupation; It also expresses a commitment to work with tribal members.
In addition, Brown University plans to oversee new scholarships on its origins and relationships with indigenous tribes, establish a working group with Narraganset to honor and commemorate the tribe, support educational opportunities for tribal youth, and increase Native American and investment. The Indigenous Studies Initiative — an interdisciplinary effort to teach history and knowledge to local people — and a native student organization. The land recognition and recommendations came out of a year-long working group that included students, faculty and staff, and members of the Naraganset tribe.
Faculty and staff will not be required to include land recognition in the syllabus or event. Recognition of land in higher education has become a matter of controversy in recent years, sometimes denounced as mere lip service that lacks a real commitment to tribal issues.
Land recognitions have also provoked pushbacks, leading to recent controversy, such as when a University of Washington professor originally included a tongue-in-cheek statement in his syllabus to protest the practice, which he described as political pendering. Similarly, the University Senate of San Diego State University briefly voted to end the requirement to include land recognition in the syllabus in March when aggrieved professors argued that forcing them to share such statements violated their First Amendment rights.