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What is Land Acknowledgement?

Land Acknowledgement: An Opportunity for Land Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin

As part of broader institutional efforts toward diversity, inclusion, and equity, Land Acknowledgements have emerged as an important step against Indigenous erasure within academic spaces. At a basic level, Land Acknowledgements express gratitude, respect, and recognition toward Indigenous Peoples as the original stewards of their traditional lands. Given as a formal statement at the beginning of gatherings, such as public events, graduations, and presentations, it draws attention to the colonial histories, ongoing Indigenous presence, and the ethical and historic responsibilities that educational institutions have to the territories that they occupy.

Land Acknowledgments have been already adopted as standard protocol at many universities across Turtle Island. By adopting a Land Acknowledgment, The University of Texas at Austin makes a substantial step in supporting and valuing Native American and Indigenous members of our academic community as well as recognizing the rich Indigenous history of the very land on which we work, study, and learn.

In addition to the Land Acknowledgment, the Committee on Land Acknowledgment at UT Austin provides a number of Land Engagements that express a course of action that The University of Texas at Austin can take to support the intentions laid out in the acknowledgment. These material commitments will distinguish our institution as a leader among its peers by going beyond what some have critiqued as the empty gesture of the Land Acknowledgement.

The Committee on Land Acknowledgment at UT Austin--formed in July 2020--has included all the Native American and Indigenous faculty in our institution; and has conducted a process of broad consultation among representatives of the native community in the Austin area and indigenous student organizations on campus.

For deeper reading on the benefits and the limits of Land Acknowledgment statements, we recommend the following articles and guides:

 Acknowledging Native Land is a Step Against Indigenous Erasure

https://www.insightintodiversity.com/acknowledging-native-land-is-a-step-against-indigenous-erasure/

 “Beyond Territorial Acknowledgement”

https://apihtawikosisan.com/2016/09/beyond-territorial-acknowledgments/

 “Guide to Indigenous Land and Territorial Acknowledgements for Cultural Institutions”

http://landacknowledgements.org