What Is Land Acknowledgment?
A Land Acknowledgment 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.
The Umass Land Acknowlegement
In a year-long consultative and deeply collaborative process with respected advisors from local Tribal Nations, the UMass Native Advisory Council co-developed this campus Land Acknowledgement. This Acknowledgement affirms our campus connection and relationship to the land the campus is built upon and our continued connection to the Nations who were the original inhabitants and caretakers of this land. The Land Acknowledgement also affirms our connection and responsibility to the 82 Native nations west of the Mississippi whose homelands were sold through the Morrill Act of 1862. The money from these sales were used to establish this campus as a land-grant institution. The Land Acknowledgement is part of a broader effort of building and sustaining relationships and partnerships with the Native Nations to whom we, as a university community, are connected.
Why Introduce The Practice Of Land Acknowledgment?
- Offer recognition and respect.
- Counter the “doctrine of discovery” with the true story of the people who were already here.
- Create a broader public awareness of the history that has led to this moment.
- Begin to repair relationships with Native communities and with the land.
- Redefine relationship with land and waters. To respect these as living beings.
- Support larger truth-telling and reconciliation efforts.
- Remind people that colonization is an ongoing process, with Native lands still occupied
- Take a cue from Indigenous protocol, opening up space with reverence and respect.
- Inspire ongoing action and relationship building.
How To Utilize A Land Acknowledgement
The Land Acknowledgement may be utilized by the campus community as a means to recognize and reaffirm existing relationships to people and land, honor the complex and difficult history that impacted Native peoples, and educate students, faculty, and staff. Land acknowledgements may be read at the beginning of an event or meeting. They are particularly appropriate at occasions of special significance such as ground breaking ceremonies, building openings, convocations, and large conferences or events.
UMass Amherst does not have a policy requiring Land Acknowledgements. This information is designed to provide resources for offices and event planners who wish to employ this practice in a respectful, appropriate manner.
Land acknowledgment by itself is a small gesture. It becomes meaningful when coupled with authentic relationship and informed action. It is meant as a starting point toward greater public education of Native sovereignty and cultural rights - a critical step toward equitable relationship and reconciliation.