What is a Land Acknowledgment?
It is a statement used to open public events and gatherings that acknowledges the traditional Indigenous lands on which the host and/or audience stands. They offer recognition, respect, and are used to call attention to Indigenous peoples while inviting others to act in solidarity rather than contribute to their erasure and dispossession. Land acknowledgments counter the “doctrine of discovery” with the true facts of the people who were already here, and are still here. Acknowledgment by itself is a small gesture. It becomes meaningful when coupled with authentic relationship, informed action, and sustained commitment. But this beginning can be an opening to greater public consciousness of Indigenous sovereignty and cultural rights, a step toward equitable relationships, racial healing and reconciliation.
If you want to put together a land acknowledgement but aren't sure where to start, here are some local, national, and international resources:
Who is doing land and water acknowledgments?
In the United States, the practice of land acknowledgments began with museums on the east coast and has progressively moved west over the last several years and spread to institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations, and local governments. After the 2020 Oscar land acknowledgment statement by Academy Award Winning Director, Taika Waititi, the movement has received more attention, both positively and negatively. The practice of land acknowledgments has been gaining momentum in the United States.
Why do some community members not support land and water acknowledgments?
Some folks are critical of land and water acknowledgements when the land and water acknowledgments are not followed by meaningful action. Acknowledgment without action is an empty gesture, exculpatory and self-serving. Meet Minneapolis have taken steps to help our staff learn new narratives about Indigenous people in Minnesota and become more cultural fluent in Indigenous cultures and histories. We have also created a welcoming and belonging space in our office for Indigenous community members. Lastly, we have developed authentic relationships with Indigenous community members and businesses.