Idaho Dispatch

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Is Boise State University Built on “Stolen” Native American Land?

By • November 26, 2023

Is Boise State University built on land that was stolen from the Shoshone-Bannock Native American tribe? Some BSU students claim it is, and events that take place on campus are started with a moment of silence in honor of this claim.

The Shoshone-Bannock tribe was originally two tribes who joined together.

“The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Fort Hall are comprised of the eastern and western bands of the Northern Shoshone and the Bannock, or Northern Paiute, bands. Ancestral lands of both tribes occupied vast regions of land encompassing present-day Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and into Canada. The tribes are culturally related, and though both descend from the Numic family of the Uto-Aztecan linguistic phylum, their languages are dialectically separate. When the Northern Paiutes left the Nevada and Utah regions for southern Idaho in the 1600s, they began to travel with the Shoshones in pursuit of buffalo. They became known as the Bannocks.”

Joe Engstrom is the Associate Vice President of Financial Affairs at BSU. This position is “the primary representative of student organizations to ASBSU and is responsible for chairing and managing the Funding Board.” Engstrom told the Idaho Dispatch,

“As a Boise State student and as a Representative of the Frank Church Institute, we, as a community, continue to honor and acknowledge the ancestral, cultural, and unceded territory of the Shoshone-Bannock tribe on which Boise State University sits.”

Engstrom used the phrase “unceded territory” in his comment. defines “ceded” to mean,

“to transfer, make over, or surrender (something, especially territory or legal rights)”

The Frank Church Institute mentioned by Engstrom is a nod to the late Idaho Senator Frank Church.

“The Frank Church Institute was established in 1982 as the Frank Church Chair of Public Affairs at Boise State University, to honor the achievements and to carry forward the principles of one of Idaho’s most distinguished native sons, Senator Frank Church.

The Institute, which is housed within the School of Public Service at Boise State University, emphasizes to its students those ideas which the Senator held dear—a strong belief in the rule of law, eloquence firmly based on reason, and an unwavering faith in the American political system.”

Boise State’s website goes on to explain,

“The mission of the Frank Church Institute is education, leadership, and public service through promoting civic engagement and understanding of public policy with a focus on democracy, the environment, and international relations, in partnership with the School of Public Service at Boise State University.”

This BSU page links to the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture Native Lands Acknowledgement information and uses the hashtag #HonorNativeLand.

The Native Lands: A Guide and Call to Acknowledgement explains that people have a responsibility to honor native communities in this particular way they have detailed.

“We call on all individuals and organizations to open public events and gatherings with acknowledgment of the traditional Native inhabitants of the land.

Acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way of showing respect and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture and toward inviting and honoring the truth….

For more than five hundred years, Native communities across the Americas have demonstrated resilience and resistance in the face of violent efforts to separate them from their land, culture, and each other. They remain at the forefront of movements to protect Mother Earth and the life it sustains. Today, corporate greed and federal policy push agendas to extract wealth from the earth, degrading sacred land in blatant disregard of treaty rights. Acknowledgment is a critical public intervention, a necessary step toward honoring Native communities and enacting the much larger project of decolonization and reconciliation. Join us in adopting, calling for, and spreading this practice.”

Honor Native Land Guide (Public)

Engstrom also told the Idaho Dispatch that merely acknowledging the “unceded territory” of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe isn’t enough. He did not elaborate on what more should be done.

“This acknowledgement is not enough, but remembering our true history is important and something Boise State University is committed to doing.”

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Tags: Acknowledgement, Associated Students of Boise State University, Boise State University, Fort Hall, Frank Church Institute, Idaho, Joe Engstrom, Native Land, Shoshone-Bannock Tribe, U.S. Department of Arts and Culture

22 thoughts on “Is Boise State University Built on “Stolen” Native American Land?

  1. Paying lip service to this situation is not enough. Action is required. Shut down the university, send the students home and give the land back to tribes. You can probably throw at least half of Boise city land in with the university and move the capital back to Idaho City.

    1. Oh, no, you misunderstand: actually DOING something is not required. All they have to do is say they “stand with (insert today’s cause here)” and look repentant.

  2. The answer is “No.” Got any hard questions?

    As an aside, I thought students attended college to learn. When exactly did this change?

  3. This is out of hand. No this is not Native American land. and if it is, who did they steal it from? It has been proven that the “peaceful” Native American non sense is just that, non sense. The tribes were in constant battle and taking from each other. Why is there a Canadian flag in that photo, if that is in the US, they need to go back to Canada because they do not belong here. Reparations, they have been getting them for a long time. This woke agenda needs to go away, everyone has had enough.

  4. I suspect that they would say that everything belongs to them even though, they built nothing.

    They are trying to exploit United Nations Resolution A/RES/15/1514 passed by the General Assembly on December 14, 1960. This resolution was proposed by the COMMUNIST leader Nikita Khrushchev: Declaration on Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. You can follow the logic.

    I found out recently that Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13107 on December 12, 1998. FR Doc. Number 98-33348. This EO orders all agencies of government to implement UN Human Rights Treaties. (Implementation of Human Rights Treaties). As far as I could tell, the order was never rescinded. That explains to me at least, why our agencies of government – especially the Department of Justice have gone rogue behaving in un-Constitutional and un-American ways.

    Maybe now all of you will understand why we need to kick the United Nations out of our country and repeal the 1945 United Nations Participation Act and the UNESCO Participation Act. In the mean time, our state legislature should ban the United Nations from our state and make it a felony for anybody connected to the United Nations – directly or indirectly to operate in our state.

  5. Hilarious. Why doesn’t the tribe just return it to those they “stole” it from? Boise- just one more dead blue shthole.

  6. It’s apparent that none of these students has actually read the history of Frank Church. This is the senator that tried to get all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints expelled from office – and he really wanted to follow Governor Lilburn Boggs of Missouri and have them expelled from the State. He was a bigot and didn’t give a crap for the natives.

    And PS – None of the Native American tribes had any notion of land “ownership.” They thought it was ridiculous and didn’t start fighting back against the US government’s efforts to take that land until well into the 1800’s when they finally began to understand what it meant.

    1. Nor did they understand… gun powder… ships… THE WHEEL.

      They did, however, understand literally every other atrocity attributed to every other culture in the world. War, conquest, rape, killing, slavery, etc. But their culture is placed on a pedestal somehow while ours is demonized. Why? Because they lost… and because everyone loves a victim and a reason to hate white Europeans.

  7. As far as I can tell, the University of Idaho is the only Land Grant College or University in Idaho. Land Grant Universities do carry the distinction of being built on past and future Tribal lands. BSU is not among them.

  8. I personally think it far more alarming that the agendas of BSU’s professors/leadership seem overwhelmingly designed to “steal” the minds of the young people attending there as opposed to any alleged “theft” of the topography the buildings were constructed on.

    This, more than anything in my humble opinion, deserves our concern or opposition.

  9. For the love of God please STFU. “Unceded Land”? Newflash… when they were conquered, it was ceded. End of story. Was it stolen? Nope. It was conquered. Just like countless tribes took it from each other over the span of 13,000 years that Migratory Asians (no such thing as Native Americans) crossed the land bridge between Asia and North America. They killed each other, took each other’s land, raped each other’s women, sold each other into slavery… just like every other civilization black, white, brown and yellow for millennia. And ultimately, they were conquered. A culture no better than the one who defeated them, was sent packing. And that’s history.

    So you can whine and gripe and complain all you want, but it changes nothing. The only reason the Western Europeans who took it and control it to this day are demonized is because they won, and everybody loves a victim. No one ever asks about the victim’s history… they just look at the loss and assume it was “wrong”.

    If you want to do something about it… then by all means take a vacation from the Casino management and rise up and take it all back. If not, then just STFU and stop whining already.

  10. When Joe Engstrom gives his “unceded” private residence to the Shoshone-Bannock tribe, then I’ll be impressed.

  11. I’ve been on a few college tours across the country this year because I have a graduating senior. This apology tour and acknowledging native lands cr@p is at almost every presentation. It’s such the fad.

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