The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology acknowledges the university’s origins in a land grant from the Anishinaabeg (including Odawa, Ojibwe, and Boodewadomi) and Wyandot. We further acknowledge that our university stands, like almost all property in the United States, on lands obtained, generally in unconscionable ways, from indigenous peoples. In addition, our research on the ecology and evolutionary biology of Michigan has benefited and continues to benefit from access to land originally gained through the exploitation of others. Knowing where we live and work does not change the past, but a thorough understanding of the ongoing consequences of this past can empower us in our research, teaching, and outreach to create a future that supports human flourishing and justice for all individuals.
Previous EEB news:
Walk of Remembrance of the Burt Lake Village Burnout at EEB annual retreat
The annual Burt Lake Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indian’s Walk of Remembrance took place on the cool and sunny morning of Saturday, September 8, 2018 during the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology retreat at the University of Michigan Biological Station.
The walk serves as an annual remembrance of the tragic Burt Lake Village burnout on Oct. 15, 1900, during which the Burt Lake Band’s ancestral village near Burt Lake’s Maple Bay, Brutus, Mich., was burned as a result of an illegal land grab. Members of the Burt Lake Band, known historically as the Cheboiganing Band, were signatories of the Treaties of 1836 and 1855, which granted the band property and governing rights that were violated by the burnout and related transgressions. Many descendents of Cheboiganing Band members whose village was destroyed and stolen live near the site of the burnout, while others have dispersed and live elsewhere in Michigan and other states. The Burt Lake Band has sustained a strong tribal identity, is a close neighbor of the U-M Biological Station (UMBS), and is seeking federal recognition as an established tribe.
University of Michigan Biological Station news:
WATCH: Treaty Rights, Climate Change, and Bio-Cultural Sovereignty
Years ago, Nick Reo spent four undergraduate summers at UMBS. He went on to earn his master’s at the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment – now the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS). After finishing his PhD at Michigan State, collaborating on various UMBS-based research projects, and establishing a successful professorial career at Dartmouth, he recently returned to Douglas Lake to deliver the Pettingill Endowed Lecture in Natural History.
Reo describes his area of work as “indigenous environmental studies.” This includes the study of indigenous knowledge, best practices for ecological stewardship on indigenous lands, and investigation into the social systems that have historically marginalized native peoples. As part of this work, he blends ecological, anthropological and indigenous methodologies, often via tribal community-university partnerships.
A hot topic he discusses in his lecture is the importance of land acknowledgements, delivered increasingly often at the outset of public presentations.