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Native American Student Life

Celebrating Our Present

Today more than 300 American Indian students comprise more than 18% percent of the Morris student body.

  • In Minnesota and nationwide, Native students comprise just 1-2% of students at four-year colleges.
  • Morris is the only four-year college in the upper Midwest qualifying for federal designation as a Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institution (where at least 10% of students are American Indian).


American Indian Students at Morris:

Morris is:

  • 55 miles from the Upper Sioux Community in southwest Minnesota and 65 miles from the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in South Dakota.
  • Located within 150 miles of six Native Nations—the Upper Sioux Community; Lower Sioux Indian Community, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, and White Earth Ojibwe in Minnesota; and the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate and Flandreau Santee Sioux in South Dakota.
  • One of two universities with a federal mandate to provide a tuition-free education to American Indian students tied to grants of land and facilities from American Indian boarding schools by the US federal government.
  • One of the Top 200 Colleges for American Indians, according to Winds of Change

Morris offers:

Academic Programs

Cultural Programs

  • Visiting elders program
  • Native scholars, artists, and leaders in residence
  • Native American Gardens: Three Sisters, Traditional Foods, and Medicine Wheel Gardens in the Crocus Valley Garden
  • Annual Traditional Native American Community Meal
  • Native American Heritage Month
  • World Touch Cultural Heritage Week/CNIA Powwow

Programs/organizations to increase American Indian student participation and success

Office of Equity, Diversity, and Intercultural Programs

  • Multi-Ethnic Student Program
  • Gateway Summer Bridge Program for new students

American Indian Advisory Committee

  • The AIAC hosts Morris’s American Indian Honoring Ceremony celebrating Native graduates and their families each May

An honor song by a traditional drum group honors all new Morris students at the New Student Orientation welcome ceremony and all Morris graduates at the Commencement ceremony

Financial support for college & resources to build financial literacy

Recognizing Our Past

The Morris campus is situated on original Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) and Dakota and Lakota (Sioux) homelands. The campus was founded in 1887 as a Native American boarding school. When the US Bureau of the Interior turned over the building and lands of the boarding school to the State of Minnesota in 1909 to establish the agricultural boarding high school (1910–63), it was with the stipulation that American Indian students would be admitted on the same conditions as other students, and tuition-free.

When the Minnesota State Legislature established the Morris campus of the University of Minnesota in 1959 as a selective public liberal arts college, this same stipulation remained. These actions are legally recorded in federal law and state statute.

Learn more about Morris's unique campus history

Creating Our Future

“The legal and moral legacy reflected in Morris’s campus history shapes our institutional mission today. The University of Minnesota, Morris is tied inextricably to the land, to the previous educational institutions that have resided here, and to all the peoples who have called this place home.”—Chancellor Jacqueline R. Johnson, August 22, 2012 in a field hearing of the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP)

Learn about Morris students and alumni making a difference in their communities

  • 300+

    Native students at Morris

  • 59

    federally recognized American Indian tribes/Alaskan Native villages and Canadian First Nations represented at Morris

  • +18%

    of Morris students are Native

The Morris campus uses the term American Indian to refer more broadly to peoples indigenous to the United States and Canada including members and descendants of tribal nations, Alaskan native villages and corporations, and Canadian First Nations. The term Native American is used occasionally as well to reflect the same peoples as the campus is identified federally as a Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institution of higher education by the US Department of Education.