A guide to land acknowledgments

Video resources to share

The GNW Circle of Indigenous Ministries is committed to providing resources for local churches and ministry settings to begin doing land acknowledgment within their context. These videos are available for you to download and use as a resource.

It is time to make the invisible visible

Land acknowledgments are formal public statements, showing awareness, gratitude, honor, and respect for the first people(s) of particular lands, territories, and spaces.  In most places, the efforts to create such a statement reveals, reminds, and confronts the authors and audience with the reality, among others, that they are not the first ones here. Someone(s) else was here first. The Indigenous people of most lands have been and/or are being made invisible. The church has benefited greatly.

Land acknowledgments can be a powerful way to subvert forces and systems, that benefit from the erasure, genocide, assimilation, and colonization of the original inhabitants. Acknowledgement is an important step toward dismantling racism. It is a way to help make the invisible visible again. This guide is meant to help resource individuals and communities who would like to research, create, and share in the practice of land acknowledgment.


General guidelines for writing a land acknowledgment

Research

Learn more about the way in which you and other Europeans acquired the land where your site is.

Write

Understand that this is a living document and will need some work after you first publish it.

Share

Learn more about the Indigenous people whose land you now reside upon and remember, even though generations have past, your local Indigenous community still exists.

Follow the spirit

As you craft your land acknowledgment, be prepared for resistance from others and maybe from yourself. Explore what that is about. Also, consider what more you and your ministry setting can do to create a circle of friendship and healing with your local Indigenous communities.

Example: Portland State University

Portland State University is located in the heart of downtown Portland, Oregon in Multnomah County. We honor the Indigenous people whose traditional and ancestral homelands we stand on, the Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Tumwater, Watlala bands of the Chinook, the Tualatin Kalapuya and many other indigenous nations of the Columbia River. It is important to acknowledge the ancestors of this place and to recognize that we are here because of the sacrifices forced upon them. In remembering these communities, we honor their legacy, their lives, and their descendants.

Find more information on the PSU website.

Example: Suttle Lake Camp (Oregon)

Hebrew and Christian scriptures say, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” and all that is in them. And before the earth beneath our feet was called the Oregon Territory, before there was a Bend, Sisters, Camp Sherman or Suttle Lake Camp thousands of years of life went on in these forests, along the streams, on the shores of the lake and across this high desert. For generation after generation the Santiam band of the Molalla, Wasco, Kalapuya, Klamath, Chinook, Tenino, and Paiutes and perhaps more belonged to this land. We acknowledge their relationship with this land, we give thanks for their care of this land, and we recognize their tribal presence today. 

Read more on the Suttle Lake Camp website

Example: United Way of King County

United Way of King County acknowledges that we work on the unceded, traditional land of the Coast Salish Peoples, specifically the first people of Seattle, the Duwamish People, original stewards of the land, past and present. We honor with gratitude the land itself and the Duwamish Tribe. This acknowledgment only becomes meaningful when combined with accountable relationships and informed actions and is a first step in honoring the land we are on and their people.

Read more on their website.

Example: Lake Washington UMC Seattle

Additional resources for local ministry settings

United Methodist Resources

UMC Book of Resolutions: Native People and the United Methodist Church

Native American International Caucus advocates for Native peoples, ministries, communities within, as well as outside of the United Methodist Church.

Greater Northwest Episcopal Area Circle of Indigenous Ministries.

2015 Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Acts of Repentance Service, June 15, 2015

2015 Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Acts of Repentance Resources.

Government and public resources

The Oregon Historical Society

Oregon State University guide to land acknowledgments.

Native Governance Center: A guide to Indigenous land acknowledgment.

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