Indigenous Peoples' Day: Honoring Stewardship and Preparing Our Future

Monday, October 12th, 2020

Native and Indigenous communities all over the world embrace the Seventh Generation Principle, a guiding philosophy that in all decisions we must consider how descendants seven generations into the future will be affected. Stewardship—the care we take of the land and the people in our community—is at the heart of the Seventh Generation Principle.

To honor Indigenous Peoples' Day and the principle of stewardship, the University of Northern Iowa and the Meskwaki Nation: the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa are joining together to honor Indigenous Peoples' Day and the importance of stewardship.

The university is located on land formerly stewarded by members of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Meskwaki Nation and other Indigenous tribes. The university acknowledges our responsibility to continue the legacy of stewardship by caring for the land on which the university sets, delivering our mission for the people and communities of Iowa and beyond, and ensuring our actions today lay a strong foundation for generations to come. The Meskwaki join the university in collaboration to help guide faculty, staff, and students in growing the university’s commitment to stewardship and Indigenous peoples and cultures. 

The university makes the following commitments to honor Indigenous peoples and cultures:

  • That the university will lift up our Indigenous faculty and staff by exploring and implementing programs and practices that support their personal journeys and affirm their value as members of the Panther Family.

  • That the university will nurture our Indigenous students by honoring their cultures and offering financial and support services that foster their recruitment, retention, and success.

  • That the university will build relationships with Indigenous tribes and organizations to inform our work as we sustain Indigenous cultures.

  • That the university will develop an explicit strategy for maintaining the knowledge learned in this process, and will create an internal framework specifically for the purpose of creating institutional memory not only to curate the knowledge but to also ensure it remains a living and evolving body of useful information accessible in the future to faculty, staff, students, and Indigenous tribes.

  • That the university will continuously evaluate our land stewardship practices in order to promote environmental sustainability.

To grow in this work, the university and the Meskwaki Tribe are proud to announce a series of collaborations that honor our mutual commitment to stewardship and care for Indigenous peoples.

  • Faculty, staff, students, and members of the Meskwaki Tribe, along with other Tribes having historical and present day connection to this land, will develop a Land Stewardship Statement. This statement will not only serve as an acknowledgement of the history of the land on which the university sets, 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.

  • Faculty and staff are working to establish a program for UNI faculty to support the professional development of language and culture teachers at the Meskwaki Settlement School.

  • UNI faculty and staff are 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.

  • The UNI Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships is 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.

  • UNI’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice is working to establish a student organization focused on honoring Native and Indigenous cultures and to enhance campus engagement opportunities.

As UNI embarks on the 145th year since its Founding, the university is quickly approaching the seventh generation of those who have lived, worked, or studied here. We have important work ahead to continue stewarding this land and promoting the success of each individual who will call this place home for years and generations to come. 

In Partnership,

Mark A. Nook     Judith Bender
President           Chair, Meskwaki Tribal Council