Land acknowledgement

As we “make our marks” in the leadership spaces we find ourselves in, we also want to acknowledge and understand the colonial histories that have brought us to where we each are today.

We would like to acknowledge that the land the University of California is on is the traditional territory of the Acjachemen and Tongva Peoples who, in the face of ongoing settler colonialism, continue to act as stewards of their ancestral lands. Both Acjachemen and Tongva Nations continue to claim their place in their traditional territory. We would like to honor and respect the diverse Native & Indigenous peoples connected to this territory on which we virtually gather in.

What is a Land Acknowledgement

A Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories. 

Why do we recognize the land?

To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose territory we reside on, and a way of honoring the Indigenous peoples who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial. 

 

It is important to understand the long standing history that has brought us to the land we’re on, and to seek to understand our place within that history. Land acknowledgements do not exist in a past tense, or historical context: colonialism is a current ongoing process, and we need to build our mindfulness of our present participation. 

Moving Beyond an Acknowledgement

Although it is important to acknowledge the land, it is only a first step. We are all treaty signers, and are thus responsible and accountable for the violence that Indigenous people face. They are said in the context of disrupting colonial narratives that work to erase indigenous peoples and their histories. You can use the links in the sources section to continue your unlearning and understanding. 

 

How you situate yourself and your level of awareness about colonial occupations of Indigenous homelands brings new responsibilities to the forefront. Awareness of colonial realities requires us to go beyond a simple acknowledgement of the Indigenous nations and peoples of the territories we are visiting. It is a call for justice and the return of stolen lands/waterways to the Indigenous peoples who maintain special relationships to these places. Ultimately, what we are arguing for is a responsibility-based ethic of truth-telling to identify and act upon new pathways to Indigenous resurgence.

Lake and Mountains Landscape

Sources & Resources

Are You Planning to do a Land Acknowledgement by Dr. Debbie Reese
Indigenous Environmental Network
Laurier Students' Public Interest Research Group, Ontario, Canada (LSPIRG)
National Indigenous Women's Resource Center
Native-Land
Native Land, Territory Acknowledgement
Native American Rights Fund
Northwestern, Native American and Indigenous Initiatives, Land Acknowledgement
NYC Stands with Standing Rock Collective "#StandingRockSyllabus:"
U.S. Department of Arts and Culture "#HonorNativeLand:"