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Land-Grab Universities

Maps, graphics, and research

for High Country News

April 2020 issue

Land-Grab Universities is an investigative report on the ways Land Grant Universities benefited from gifts of free Indigenous lands, subsequently played on the market to create their endowment principals, and the continued profits of these lands today. Tristan Ahtone, Robert Lee, Kalen Goodluck, Geoff McGhee, Cody Leff, and I tell this story through multiple points of entry: writing, cartographic design, interactive webmap, photography, and open data.

To amplify and expand this story, I designed the maps for accountability and specificity at each U.S. scale: national, state, city, and local. 

Additional support for the project came from the Pulitzer Center and the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

Read the full article in print. Online at High Country News.
You can download the data from github.
Interactive at


2021 Mary L. Dudziak Digital Legal History Prize,
American Society for Legal History.

Richard LaCourse Award for Investigative Journalism
Native American Journalists Association.

SND42 Best of Print News Design:
Award of Excellence in "Combined Print & Digital—Features" category.

2021 Sigma Data Journalism award.

George Polk Award for Education Reporting. 

Print/Online Division IV Award from Investigative
Reporters & Editors (IRE).

Finalist for 2021 Ellie magazine award, in Public Interest category.


Native American and Indigenous Studies Journal,
Special Section on the Land-Grab Universities Project, vol. 8 issue 1, 2021.

Indigenous Data Sovereignty and the Land Grab Universities Project
| Tiara Roxanne. Feminism and Gender Democracy / Gunda Werner Institute.

How a Civil War-era law turned Native American land into university endowments |  Kira Lovell. VOX Magazine.

A complete list of press coverage, scholarship, and impact can be found at in the "Stories" section.

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