Seizing and selling tribal land in Kansas funded scores of American universities

In the 1800s, the U.S. government gave states land in the interest in building land-grant universities, in which schools would reinvest money they got from selling the land. Much of the land came from Native Americans, who got a fraction of what the land was worth.


State News

June 17, 2020 - 10:08 AM

Pauline Sharp shows a map of Kanza land in the 1800s during a visit to Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park. Photo by Stephan Bisaha / Kansas News Service /

COUNCIL GROVE — Cornell University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and 30 other schools owe at least part of their existence to land taken from Kansas’ indigenous people.

In the 1800s, the U.S. government gave states that land in the interest of building land-grant universities. Then, the schools would reinvest the money they got from selling the land — which was mostly in the Midwest, including 920,000 acres in Kansas.

A recent analysis by High Country News shows tribes who were forced off of their land were paid less than 2% of what the states raised from selling that same land.

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