Alumnus Bobby Lee (Ph.D. '17) and team were awarded the Roy Rosenzweig Prize for Creativity in Digital History by the AHA, for their project “Land-Grab Universities” (High Country News, 2020). The database was created through extensive reporting and research into primary source materials, including land patent records, congressional documents, historical bulletins, historical maps, archival and print resources at the National Archives, state repositories and special collections at universities and more. The team researched and mapped the relationship between expropriated Indigenous land, and the land-grant university system.
From the project:
Over the past two years, High Country News has located more than 99% of all Morrill Act acres, identified their original Indigenous inhabitants and caretakers, and researched the principal raised from their sale in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We reconstructed approximately 10.7 million acres taken from nearly 250 tribes, bands and communities through over 160 violence-backed land cessions, a legal term for the giving up of territory.
In 2020, UC Berkeley held a series of events addressing UC Berkeley's role as a land grab institution. Earlier this year, the Myers Center and Native American Student Development issued a report (link is external)to pull out key learnings, models, examples of best practices, recommendations and potential for action to help the campus reckon with its past and consider options to move forward in a more just manner.
Lee is currently an Assistant Professor at Cambridge University, who focuses on Indigenous dispossession and US state formation in the nineteenth century American West.