What is Land Acknowledgement?
Traditionally, Indigenous Nations would offer an acknowledgement before a gathering. A Land Acknowledgement statement is becoming more common in countries such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. U.S. institutions of higher education are also making statements. It is a statement made at the opening of an event, meeting, or gathering to acknowledge the original inhabitants of the specific land where the event is taking place.
Why make a Land Acknowledgement statement?
For the countries mentioned above they were colonized by outsiders. The prevalent culture is European in origin. While many place names have been retained in one form or another, the Indigenous people themselves are often erased from the collective memory of those who currently inhabit these spaces.
A Land Acknowledgement statement is the first step in recognizing that we are on colonized land. This process is ongoing and is not made as a mere lesson in history. Instead, it is meant to educate people about the living spaces they currently inhabit as well as start a conversation about the displacement and erasure of colonized peoples. Our city, state, and country were not a wilderness discovered by explorers and molded into what we see today. Instead, it was already home to cultures and peoples who remain with us today.
Additional Resources on Land Acknowledgement
National Museum of the American Indian
Native Governance Center
U.S. Department of Arts and Culture