Despite all the research and recognition that Marquette’s Indigeneity Lab has produced over the past two years, students and faculty worked year after year, unsure if funds would be available for future projects.
Marquette’s Indigeneity Lab has contributed to faculty-led research on campus since its conception on Indigenous Peoples Day in 2020. Students in the lab have collaborated with staff members to help create a historical archive of residential schools, virtual tours of Milwaukee Native City sites, and research on growing wild rice in Milwaukee.
“Funding involves a mix of sources: philanthropic support from the Joerres Family Current Use Fund for Experiential Learning, budget and staff support from the Office of the Provost and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion institutions, and grants,” said John Su, Vice Rector. for Academic Affairs and faculty member of the Indigeneity Lab, said in an email.
The lab conducts research during the summer, giving student researchers stipends to help fund their stays in Milwaukee.
“I would say the majority of our funding goes directly to undergraduate students. Last summer, we had a total of six students that we were able to fund,” said Samantha Mahjor, English teacher and faculty member at Indigeneity Lab.
However, after receiving annual funding from the Joerres Family Fund, provided by Marquette alumni Jeff and Sarah Joerres, the lab is now able to operate on a regular basis.
“From a faculty perspective, the only word I would use is relief, knowing that we don’t have to worry about being closed after every summer. Until now, we were going year to year, but now we have at least some sustainability for students for the future,” said Bryan Rindfleisch, professor of history and faculty member of the Indigeneity Lab. .
However, Rindfleisch also expressed concern about future expansion of the lab.
“The problem then becomes if we want to include more students, that means smaller stipends, which is not competitive with summer work. For long-term sustainability, the lab may need to look elsewhere for additional financial support,” Rindfleisch said.
The Indigeneity Lab has grown steadily since its inception, having recently launched a website to increase its visibility and hopefully aid in its future expansion.
“We have opportunities that are beyond the capacity of our funding and staff. For now, where we go from here really depends on whether we can grow that infrastructure, and that means looking at bigger issues of hiring at Marquette,” Mahjor said.
Currently, Mahjor is the only Indigenous faculty member employed by Marquette University. In this capacity, she expressed the importance of the Indigeneity Lab through her lens.
“I think it’s very difficult for Indigenous and Indigenous students to be on campus because we tend to represent such a small population, so this project brings us together in a way that we haven’t always opportunities,” Mahjor said.
Madison Black, a junior student at the College of Arts and & Sciences and a student researcher in the lab, described the importance of the program.
“Having such a small Indigenous community on campus, it can be difficult at first to connect with other Indigenous people. However, the Indigeneity Lab has helped me make more Indigenous friends and connected me with supportive staff and teachers who really care about my story,” Black said.
However, Rindfleisch says there is still a lot of work to do, both inside and outside the lab.
“The last thing, but also something extremely important, about the lab being an important part of Marquette is that it does not and should not replace all the diversity work, equity and inclusion that the university still needs to address and work on,” Rindfleisch said.
This story was written by Clara Lebron. She can be reached at [email protected]