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In 1862, the Morrill Act allowed the federal government to expropriate over 10 million acres of tribal lands from Native communities, selling or developing them in order to fund public colleges. Over time, additional violence-backed treaties and land seizures ceded even more Indigenous lands to these “land-grant universities,” which continue to profit from these parcels. 

But the Morrill Act is only one piece of legislation that connects land taken from Indigenous communities to land-grant universities. Over the past year, Grist looked at state trust lands, which are held and managed by state agencies for the schools’ continued benefit, and which total more than 500 million surface and subsurface acres across 21 states. We wanted to know how these acres, also stolen Indigenous land, are being used to fund higher education.

To do this, we needed to construct an original dataset. 

Grist located all state trust lands distributed through state enabling acts that currently send revenue to higher education institutions that also benefited from the Morr... Read more

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