2019 Land Acknowledgement

ASHE 2019 Land Acknowledgement

By: Leslie D. Gonzales (Michigan State University), 2019 Program Chair

As we gather for the ASHE 2019 Conference, please consider taking some time to learn, reflect, and acknowledge that the land and resources we are using to sustain ourselves rightfully belong to Indigenous Peoples that continue to live and thrive all around the Portland area.
Below, you will find a brief history of the area written by Mr. Robert Kentta, the Cultural Resource Director of the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians. We are so thankful to Mr. Kentta for his generous teachings and encourage you to read this history carefully to frame your thinking about the Portland area.

The middle Chinookans, Kalapuyans and Molalla peoples of the Willamette Valley area ceded the Portland Metro area under the Kalapuya Treaty of January 1855. In November 1855, President Franklin Pierce signed an order establishing the Siletz Reservation for the Oregon Coast, Willamette, and Umpqua Tribes. Three days later, the federal government made the decision to move the Rogue Valley Tribes to the newly formed Siletz Reservation. As removal was being planned, the government bought out the interests of some Donation Land Claimants on the South Fork of the Yamhill River to be used as a staging area for removal of Tribes to the Siletz Reservation. This encampment was called the Grand Ronde Encampment. When plans were sent to Washington D.C. to add those lands to the Siletz Reservation in 1857, President Buchanan signed an order establishing the Grand Ronde Reservation. Most of the Willamette Treaty Tribes remained at that encampment and became members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, but over time, many Siletz Families also have maintained their direct connections to Willamette Treaty Tribes ancestry and the Executive Order—as a founding document—also recognizes the Tribes’ connections to the 1855 Willamette/Kalapuya Treaty. Today, many Native and Indigenous peoples continue to live and thrive in this area.
– A short history by Robert Kentta, Cultural Resources Director and Elected Tribal Council Member Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians (Shasta & Dakubetede ancestry).

Keeping this complex history in mind, we encourage all session chairs to offer a Land Acknowledgement, such as one of the statements, offered below.

  • We take this opportunity to thank the original caretakers of this land.

  • We acknowledge the that the land which we occupy rests on traditional village sites of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde the Community and Confederated Tribes of Siletz.

  • We acknowledge that the land and resources we are using rightfully belong to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde the Community and Confederated Tribes of Siletz. We honor their rightful ownership and acknowledge their presence.

  • We understand that this land belongs to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde the Community and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz. We understand that through forcible and violent removal, many other Native communities came to live and thrive in this area.

Below are some additional excellent resources for learning about the Portland, Oregon area.

Resources and Recommendations for Creating Land Acknowledgements 

By: The Indigenizing ASHE Collective 
The Indigenizing ASHE Collective, also known as the Indigenous Scholars Collective, developed these resources and guidelines for the ASHE community in hopes that ASHE community members will consult these resources as they strive to learn about and craft Land Acknowledgements at their institutions, go about working with Indigenous and Native Communities, and prepare for ASHE conference meetings. 
In developing Land Acknowledgements and working with Indigenous and Native Communities, please keep these guiding values in mind: 
  • Indigenous Peoples are present and alive, and not relics of history.
  • Find a balance between disparities and strengths found within Indigenous communities.
  • Land and our relationship to the land guide our process.
  • Tribal communities are diverse and should be consulted for cultural protocols of land acknowledgment and gift protocols.
  • Traditional homelands may include more than one tribal community.
In preparing to gather at ASHE conferences or other convenings, consider the following pre-conference practices: 
  • Encourage individuals to critically reflect how their upbringing (home-life, educational, ancestral) experiences inform their relationship to land, or what we call “Land Reflection.”
  • Encourage individuals to critically reflect how their roles on college campuses inform a land acknowledgment.
  • Encourage individuals to bring the practice of “land reflection” to their colleagues and organizations they work with.
  • Encourage individuals to critically reflect how the conference theme and conference location intersects with land acknowledgment practices.
  • Build relationships with community members that have experience in land acknowledgment. The building process should be reciprocal, do not see these individuals who you can extract knowledge from.
    • After building relationships, offer a stipend(s) and/or other forms of reciprocation to community members who participate in land acknowledgment practices.
Below, are several resources, including articles and podcasts, that can be used for learning more about the purpose and limits of Land Acknowledgements. Please note that this list is not exhaustive. 
Allan, B., Perreault, A., Chenoweth, J., Biin, D., Hobenshield, S., Ormiston, T… & Wilson, J. (2018). Understanding territorial acknowledgement as a respectful relationship. In Pulling together: A guide for teachers and instructors. Victoria, BC: BCcampus. Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/indigenizationinstructors/chapter/understanding-territorial-acknowledgement-as-a-respectful-relationship/
Amnesty International Canada (2017, September 1). Activism skills: Land and territory acknowledgement. [web log comment]. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.ca/blog/activism-skills-land-and-territory-acknowledgement
âpihtawikosisân. (2016, September 23). Beyond territorial acknowledgments. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from https://apihtawikosisan.com/2016/09/beyond-territorial-acknowledgments/

Asher, L., Curnow, J., & Davis, A. (2018). The limits of settlers’ territorial acknowledgments. Curriculum Inquiry, 48(3), 316-334.
Canada Association of University Teachers (nd). Guide to acknowledging First Peoples and traditional territory. Retrieved from https://www.caut.ca/content/guide-acknowledging-first-peoples-traditional-territory

Deerchild, R. (Host) (2019, January 20). 'I regret it': Hayden King on writing Ryerson University's territorial acknowledgment. Unreserved. Podcast retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/radio/unreserved/redrawing-the-lines-1.4973363/i-regret-it-hayden-king-on-writing-ryerson-university-s-territorial-acknowledgement-1.4973371

Flournoy, A. (2016, December 31). What does it mean to acknowledge the past? The New York Times. Retrieved from  https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/31/opinion/sunday/what-does-it-mean-to-acknowledge-the-past.html

Friedler, D. (2018, February 8). Indigenous land acknowledgement, explained. Teen Vogue. Retrieved from https://www.teenvogue.com/story/indigenous-land-acknowledgement-explained

Keefe, T. E. (2019). Land acknowledgement: A trend in higher education and nonprofit organizations.  DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.33681.07521

Luna Jimenez Institute (2018, October 8). Acknowledging the original people of this land. [web log comment]. Retrieved from https://ljist.com/featured/acknowledging-native-land/

Native Land (nd). Why acknowledge territory? [web log comment] Retrieved from https://native-land.ca/territory-acknowledgement/

Reese, D. (2019, March 9). Are you planning to do a land acknowledgement? [web log comment]. Retrieved from https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/2019/03/are-you-planning-to-do-land.html

Robinson, D., Hill, K. J. C., Ruffo, A. G., Couture, S., & Ravensbergen, L. C. (2019). Rethinking the practice and performance of Indigenous land acknowledgement. Canadian Theatre Review, 177(1), 20-30.

2018 ACPA Convention (2018, February 15). Centering the land: The importance of acknowledging Indigenous land and lifeways. [web log comment]. Retrieved from http://convention.myacpa.org/houston2018/centering-land-importance/

US Department of Arts & Culture (nd). Honor Native land: A guide and call to acknowledgement. Retrieved from https://usdac.us/nativeland

Winsa, P. (2017, December 17).  Are Indigenous acknowledgements a step forward or an empty gesture? The Star. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2017/12/27/are-indigenous-acknowledgements-a-step-forward-or-an-empty-gesture.html
Many thanks to the Indigenizing ASHE Collective for this work: Charlotte Davidson (Diné/Three Affiliated Tribes - Mandan, Hidatsa, & Arikara), Karen Francis-Begay (Navajo), Breanna Faris (Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes), KaiwipunikauikawÄ“kiu Punihei Lipe (Native Hawaiian), Robin Zape-tah-hol-ah Minthorn (Kiowa/Apache/Nez Perce/Umatilla/Assiniboine), Christine Nelson (Diné/K’awaika). Nicole “Coco” Reyes (Native Hawaiian), Charlie A. Scott (Diné), Tiffany Smith (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma/Muscogee (Creek), Heather J. Shotton (Wichita/Kiowa/Cheyenne), Amanda Tachine (Navajo), Stephanie Waterman (Onondaga - Turtle Clan), Erin Kahunawai Wright (Native Hawaiian), and Natalie Youngbull (Cheyenne & Arapaho/Assiniboine & Sioux).
If you have questions or updates, please contact ASHE Executive Director Jason P. Guilbeau at jason@ashe.ws.