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A Push Towards Land Acknowledgements 

December 13, 2021

Land Acknowledgements seem to be a buzzworthy trend in academia recently. I’ve had the privilege to organize several events around Land Acknowledgements for the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL), as well as join a working group at my Institution, Widener University. 

So what is a Land Acknowledgement Statement? I like the UC Berkley definition of a Land Acknowledgement, which is “A Land Acknowledgement 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.” 

Usually, a statement is read aloud at the beginning of an event, conference, or webinar, acknowledging the stolen land we reside on, while honoring the indigenous peoples. It’s so much more than a statement, though. It’s a commitment to learn, collaborate, and build meaningful relationships with indigenous communities. The most important part of a Land Acknowledgment statement is the following action. What are you and your institution doing to raise the voices of the indigenous communities in your area? Are you employing indigenous people in leadership roles? Is your library purchasing books, ebooks, journals, films, etc. by and about indigenous peoples? What are the community needs and how can you, as an institution, help? 

Land Acknowledgements are an ongoing commitment that should not be a trend that is forgotten. It’s a commitment to combating erasure, raising awareness, and acknowledging our history. I encourage everyone to bring this issue to the leadership at your institution and begin the process of creating a statement. At Widener, our working group is just beginning, and I look forward to the great work I know we can accomplish.  

Resources: 

A Guide to Indigenous Land Acknowledgement from the Native Government Center 

Acknowledging Native Land is a Step Against Indigenous Erasure 

Native Land Digital 

Guide to Indigenous Land and Territorial Acknowledgements for Cultural Institutions 

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