A land acknowledgment is a traditional custom in many Native communities and nations to show respect to the people of the land since time immemorial. The importance of land acknowledgments for non-indigenous individuals and communities relies on the recognition of their relationship to the original inhabitants of a location and to the land. Furthermore, it is a way to show respect and gratitude to the traditional stewards of a specific location, while recognizing that colonialism is still an ongoing process.
Best practice in land acknowledgment
In order to be transformative, it is important to move away from “performative” acts, as Megan Red-Shirt Shaw says in her essay “Beyond the Land Acknowledgment: College "LAND BACK" or Free Tuition for Native Students,” into a mindful way to show awareness, create accountability, and actively disrupt colonial structures.
The best way to create an appropriate land acknowledgement is to consult and collaborate local Tribal leaders, which Stanford University has done through the Native American Cultural Center, the university archaeologist's office, and the university president's office. The Stanford Native American Cultural Center describes the history of the land where the main campus was built as well as information about the current presences of different tribal members on campus.
We invite the Stanford Earth community to actively participate in these acts of respect, by getting to know better the history and present context of the Indigenous communities of the land where you live, study, and work. Reflect on the kind of engagement you have with these groups and recognize your positionality in relation to that land. This is important when extending and personalizing a given acknowledgment statement.
We recognize that Stanford sits on the ancestral land of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. This land was and continues to be of great importance to the Ohlone people. Consistent with our values of community and inclusion, we have a responsibility to acknowledge, honor and make visible the university’s relationship to Native peoples.
Stanford land acknowledgment
- Native Governance Center. (2019). Indigenous Land Acknowledgment (includes a list of tips to create a land acknowledgment)
- Native Land Digital. Territories, Languages, and Treaties Digital Map (it allows to identify Indigenous territories around the world, with emphasize on North America).
- U.S. Department of Arts and Culture. Honor Native Land: A Guide and Call to Acknowledgment.