Resources and Recommendations for Creating Land AcknowledgementsBy: The ASHE Land Acknowledgement Working Group (LAWG) (2020)
Through collaborative efforts, the ASHE Land Acknowledgement Working Group (LAWG), also known as the ASHE Indigenous Scholars Collective, has developed the resources and guidelines on this webpage for the ASHE community as members strive to learn about and craft land acknowledgments at their home institutions, go about working with Indigenous communities, and prepare for ASHE conference meetings. These guidelines are perhaps especially important this year as the ASHE annual conference moves to an online format. While we may join each other from what may seem to be “neutral” virtual space, we do so while rooted by diverse lands, each with their own names, histories, and relationships.
In developing land acknowledgments and working with Indigenous people and communities, please keep these guiding values in mind:
- Indigenous peoples are present and alive, not relics of history.
- Land and Indigenous peoples’ relationships to land guide Indigenous processes.
- Tribal communities are diverse and should be consulted for cultural protocols of land acknowledgment and gift protocols.
- Some lands are the ancestral homelands to more than one tribal community.
- Though Indigenous communities may face many disparities, they also carry many strengths. In working with Indigenous communities, it is important that both disparities AND strengths are recognized.
While developing land acknowledgments, please engage in critical reflection on:
- How your upbringing (home-life, educational, ancestral) experiences inform your relationship to land.
- How your knowledge of the history of your campus and the roles you play on campus could inform your land acknowledgment.
- How the conference theme and conference location intersects with land acknowledgment practices.
Such processes of “land reflection” are critical to working toward land acknowledgment.
If you are new to land acknowledgment, look for reputable resources of information:
- Visit http://native-land.ca to get started with identifying the Indigenous tribes and peoples of the area in which you live and/or work.
- Search the websites of your institution or of other local organizations to see if they have developed land acknowledgments you can learn from and adapt.
- Visit the websites of Indigenous nation(s) and organizations local to the area in which you live and/or work to learn more.
When developing your own land acknowledgment statement to preface a presentation or webinar, know that there is not one way wrong or right way to do it. While your stated land acknowledgment may be brief, the reflection and intention came before it is what is most important. Some possible ways to incorporate a brief land acknowledgment in your presentation could include:
- Incorporate your land acknowledgment into your personal introduction, e.g., “My name is [Full name] and I am a [position] at [institution name], which sits on the ancestral lands of the [local Indigenous nation(s)].”
- Create a slide (perhaps with a photo) that speaks to the history, original name, or another aspect of the land that you are joining from.
- Recognize the original people(s) of the land that you’re on and speak to your own relationship of the land that you’re on, including how you may benefit from it.
- Look for other examples that resonate with you.
Remember that developing a land acknowledgment should be only part of a larger process of working toward decolonization. To continue this work, please consider:
- Bringing the practice of “land reflection” to your colleagues and other organizations you may work with.
- Building relationships with community members who have experience in land acknowledgment. The building process should be reciprocal, not extractive. 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 purposes and limits of land acknowledgments. 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 acknowledgment 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 acknowledgment. [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 acknowledgment, explained. Teen Vogue. Retrieved from https://www.teenvogue.com/story/indigenous-land-acknowledgement-explained
Keefe, T. E. (2019). Land acknowledgment: 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 acknowledgment? [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 acknowledgment. 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 acknowledgment. Retrieved from https://usdac.us/nativeland
Winsa, P. (2017, December 17). Are Indigenous acknowledgments 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 ASHE Land Acknowledgement Working Group for this work:
- Theresa Ambo (San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians, Gabrieliño/Tongva, & Tohono Oʻodham)
- Nizhoni Chow-Garcia (Diné)
- Charlotte Davidson (Diné/Three Affiliated Tribes - Mandan, Hidatsa, & Arikara)
- Karen Francis-Begay (Navajo)
- Breanna Faris (Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes)
- Kaiwipunikauikawēkiu Punihei Lipe (Native Hawaiian)
- Jameson Lopez (Quechan)
- Robin Zape-tah-hol-ah Minthorn (Kiowa/Apache/Nez Perce/Umatilla/Assiniboine)
- Catherine Montoya (Diné)
- Christine Nelson (Diné/K’awaika)
- Nicole “Coco” Reyes (Kanaka ʻŌiwi)
- 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)
If you have questions or updates, please contact ASHE Executive Director Jason P. Guilbeau at firstname.lastname@example.org.