Welcome to this guide on land acknowledgements. Whatever brought you here, we are glad you have come. In this guide you will find an explanation of what a land acknowledgement is and why you might want to write one. You will also find resources to learn more so you can draft an accurate and thoughtful land acknowledgement that is followed up with actions that support Indigenous initiatives, communities, and individuals.
What is a land acknowledgement?
A land acknowledgement is a statement that acknowledges and honors the land you are on and the Indigenous citizens of the Indigenous Nations of that land. The statement typically acknowledges the history of colonialism, violence, and treaties that displaced the Indigenous communities from their traditional homelands. It also respects tribal sovereignty, highlights local Native peoples and groups, and offers suggestions for actions people can take to support Indigenous communities and initiatives.
A land acknowledgement is a way to educate, inform, and spark action. It is only a first-step toward reconciling and addressing past harms and ensuring no further harm is done. Actions will always speak louder than words. It is hoped that the knowledge gained in the writing of an acknowledgement will underpin the actions you or your organization will take in the future.
Why do you want to write a land acknowledgement?
There are many reasons and occasions that may have you considering the writing of a land acknowledgement. Some common places land acknowledgements are used are:
- Event openings
- Conference and meeting openings
- Conference presentations
- Initial class meetings
- Email signatures
Working through the writing of a land acknowledgement provides a tangible project that requires the building of knowledge and understanding around the history and present day experiences of the Indigenous Peoples on whose land you reside. Like any other project it will require learning, reflection, and work. The process of creating the acknowledgement is important. Take your time and enlist others in your organization to help (learn together).
Do not ask Indigenous Peoples to write the acknowledgement for you. If you feel that a review of your land acknowledgement is necessary, it is appropriate to ask a qualified individual to review it. Be prepared to compensate them for their time and energy. Also, be prepared for them to refuse.
Writing a land acknowledgement encourages me to learn, consider, and take the time for deep reflection. The process causes me to reconcile my identity as a descendent of European settlers with my beliefs, values, and priorities. Reconciliation to me means that I have obligations to both the land and its Indigenous stewards. How we all got here matters.
-Kat Nelsen, Librarian for American Indian Studies
Step 1: Learn about land acknowledgements
- Recording of Indigenous land acknowledgment event co-hosted by the Native Governance Center and the Lower Phalen Creek Project, October 2019
Step 2: Find out whose land you are on
Step 3: Learn about tribal sovereignty and Indigenous People
Understand and respect tribal governance and sovereignty
Accessing books in this guide
The links below the description of each book will take you to either the WorldCat entry for the specified format of the book or the UMN library catalog.
If you are not a UMN affiliate you can use the WorldCat link to find the closest library to you with the book. If there are no copies owned by your public library or another library you are affiliated with you can request a print copy* using interlibrary loan through your local library. Another option is to visit the UMN Libraries to access and use books onsite.
*Note that audio and e-book formats are typically not available through interlibrary loan due to licensing restrictions.
Learn about the Indigenous communities with traditional lands in Minnesota
Learn about tribal relationships with the University of Minnesota
Step 4: Find Indigenous communities, organizations, and businesses
The land acknowledgement you write will vary depending on its purpose. What is your end goal? Some possibilities are:
- To educate yourself and others.
- To encourage some form of action beyond the land acknowledgement.
- To provide a jumping-off or centering point for reflection and discussion.
No matter what your purpose, finding Indigenous businesses, artists, communities, initiatives, and organizations to support is a good first step toward taking action.
To find businesses and organizations in Minnesota try the Minnesota Indigenous Business Alliance directory.
Some Indigenous-led initiatives in Minnesota are:
Step 5: Write, review, and revise your land acknowledgement
A land acknowledgement is not just a one-and-done deal. Hopefully, writing the acknowledgement gives you a jumping off point for learning, understanding, working with, and supporting Indigenous Peoples and initiatives. New understanding, perspectives, initiatives, and challenges mean that a land acknowledgement will grow and change. Take the time to do a yearly review and revision. Put it on your calendar!
Selected resources for more learning!
Podcasts and websites
The links provided below go to the item page in "Just Watch" which will provide streaming options for the film. In cases where the UMN Libraries have a streaming license for the film, the link to the catalog record is provided.