Decolonizing University Land Management:
Can Anishinaabe-Centered Mnomen (Wild Rice) Restoration Help Restore Right Relations between the University of Michigan and Indigenous Communities?
Universities have long engaged with Indigenous communities in ways that are extractive and tokenizing. Dr. David Michener wants to use decolonized land stewardship to change that.
This case, originally produced in dialogue with members of Rebecca Hardin's course "Frontiers in Environmental Justice," centers around a decolonizing framework to address developing right-relations between Anishinaabe communities and the University of Michigan. In large part based on Dr. David Michener's 20 years of teamwork, it features the Indigenous Collaborative Garden and Mnomen Initiative, which today bring together multiple University of Michigan units and community members from tribes across settler borders. These efforts work to reconnect local indigenous communities with seeds saved by their ancestors, and to foster relationships with living landscapes that will help sustain future generations. This case is designed to provide a space where diverse learners have the opportunity to engage with indigenous voices, living, cultural landscapes and multiple knowledge systems in a manner that values critical thinking, creativity and careful listening. This case is narrated by David, and we ask you to put yourself in his shoes: what would you do to decolonize land management and restore right relations with the people who have called it home since time immemorial?