About Our Logo

UMN AIS Department Turtle Logo

A distinctive symbol of the U of M Department of American Indian Studies, our logo showcases indigenous aesthetics, perspectives, and knowledge.

The turtle represents North America as Turtle Island—a perspective shared by many Native peoples that acknowledges the land as a living being. In some Native cultures, the turtle represents female spiritual power; in others it represents the spirit that seeks lost things.

The book represents all human knowledge and scholarship. The image on the book is derived from an Ojibwe scroll symbol representing a successful individual who retains connections to community and the Earth. 

The two figures represent medicine dolls used in traditional healing. The male and female effigies are equal in size and in their contribution to supporting knowledge.

The state of Minnesota contains a Woodlands ecoregion to the north, and a Plains ecoregion to the south. Thus, one side of the image represents the Woodlands cultures (water and fish); the other side represents the Plains cultures (buffalo tracks and hide).

The pine tree is a symbol of the north where Dakota once lived and where the Ojibwe now live, and the eagles represent our connection to the Creator.

-Jeffrey Chapman, White Earth Ojibwe