UNI deepens partnership with Meskwaki Nation

UNI NEWS SERVICES - The University of Northern Iowa announced today that it is deepening its partnership with the Meskwaki Nation by creating new scholarships, reinstating a summer school program and jointly developing a statement acknowledging that the university campus sits on the traditional homeland of the Meskwaki and other Indigenous peoples.Aerial view of campus.

UNI faculty, staff, students, and members of the Meskwaki Tribe, along with other Tribes having historical and present day connection to this land, are working to develop a Land Stewardship Statement. This statement will not only serve as an acknowledgement of the history of the land on which the university sits, but will also outline a set of principles for environmental and mission stewardship that honor the legacy of Native and Indigenous heritage and culture. 

A draft will be generated by the workgroup this fall, and will be reviewed by the campus’ shared governance groups before formal adoption. The Meskwaki, who live on more than 3,000 acres in neighboring Tama County, were dispossessed of their homelands in a series of land concessions with the U.S. government in 1845. 

“We have important work ahead to continue stewarding this land to meet the mission of the university to promote the success of each individual who will call this place home for years and generations to come,” said UNI president Mark A. Nook.

“We are honored to be partnering with UNI in the Land Stewardship project,” said Meskwaki Tribal Chair Judith Bender. “The plans that are being developed mean our students will have an easier time adjusting to university life, thus helping them to a better chance of reaching graduation.”

UNI is also:

  • Working to establish a program for UNI faculty to support the professional development of language and culture teachers at the Meskwaki Settlement School.
  • Working with the Meskwaki Settlement School to lay plans to reinstate a summer camp for Meskwaki youth to learn about the college experience and be empowered to pursue higher education. UNI’s Office of Student Success and Retention is also collaborating with the Meskwaki Settlement School’s Higher Education program to promote college readiness for students at the settlement school.
  • Developing scholarships for students who graduate from the Meskwaki Settlement School or South Tama High School to promote their access and success if they choose to enroll at UNI.
  • Working to establish a student organization focused on honoring Native and Indigenous cultures and to enhance campus engagement opportunities.

Steve Schmadeke, UNI public relations manager, 319-273-6120, steve.schmadeke@uni.edu