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Land Acknowledgements

This guide is an introduction to land acknowledgements; it consists of general information regarding acknowledgements, tribal communities in Oregon, including OSU resources, and the land acknowledgement statement by OSU.

What is a Land Acknowledgement?

"Acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way of showing respect and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture and toward inviting and honoring the truth. Imagine this practice widely adopted: imagine cultural venues, classrooms, conference settings, places of worship, sports stadiums, and town halls, acknowledging traditional lands. Millions would be exposed—many for the first time—to the names of the traditional Indigenous inhabitants of the lands they are on, inspiring them to ongoing awareness and action."

~ From the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture Honor Native Land: A Guide and Call to Acknowledgment

The Oregon state Legislative Commission on Indian Services (LCIS) released guidance on land acknowledgments. LCIS is composed of a representative from each of the nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon, as well as two state senators and representatives. The guidance is available on LCIS’s Education page by clicking “Expand to View” in the first section, “Land Acknowledgement Guidance”. LCIS emphasizes that Tribes and tribal members have varying thoughts about the value of such statements. The linked page and LCIS’s website generally include other valuable information about Tribal and local/state government-to-government relations, Tribal sovereignty, cultural artifact repatriation, and more.

OSU Land Acknowledgement

Oregon State University recognizes the impact that its land grant history had on Indigenous communities in Oregon. Through the Morrill Act of 1862, which established land grant universities in the United States, the federal government seized nearly 11 million acres of land from 250 sovereign tribal nations, with little or no compensation.

In 1868, the state legislature designated Corvallis College as Oregon’s land grant institution. Soon after, Oregon received 90,000 acres of federal lands — taken from the Klamath, Coos, Lower Umpqua, Siuslaw and Coquille people — to be sold to create an endowment supporting the growth of the new college, which would become Oregon State University.

Oregon State University in Corvallis is located within the traditional homelands of the Marys River or Ampinefu Band of Kalapuya. Following the Willamette Valley Treaty of 1855, Kalapuya people were forcibly removed to reservations in Western Oregon. Today, living descendants of these people are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians. Indigenous people are valued, contributing members of the Oregon State community and represent multiple sovereign tribes among students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Oregon State University accepts its responsibility for understanding the continuing impact of that history on these communities. Oregon State is committed — in the spirit of self-reflection, learning, reconciliation and partnership — to ensure that this institution of higher learning will be of enduring benefit, not only to the state of Oregon, but also to the people on whose ancestral lands it is now located.

OSU Land Acknowledgement

OSU Resources for Land Acknowledgements

The Presidents Commission on Indigenous Affairs developed a land acknowledgement guidance for departments and programs to move towards those next steps while thinking critically about their roles in upholding OSU’s commitments to Tribal nations and Indigenous people.

"Beyond Awareness: Deepening Understandings of Land Acknowledgement Practices" Created by Luhui Whitebear, PhD, Kobe Natachu, Roman Cohen, Alicia Duncan & Charlene Martinez, Oregon State University

"Oregon State expands efforts to serve Indigenous communities" Life@OSU, November 9, 2022

Articles, Guides, and Opinion Pieces about Land Acknowledgements

Land Acknowledgments are not a substitute for actions in support of social justice initiatives. A Land Acknowledgment can be the opening of a conversation not an ending.

Acknowledging Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers

Citation formats do not have a format for Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers; NorQuest College Library developed a citation style in the spirit of wahkôhtowin and reconciliation:

  • Unlike most other personal communications, Elders and Knowledge Keepers should be cited in-text and in the reference list.
  • The citation format for the reference list follows the following format:
    • Last name, First name., Nation/Community. Treaty Territory if applicable. City/Community they live in if applicable. Topic/subject of communication if applicable. Date Month Year. 
    • Cardinal, Delores., Goodfish Lake Cree Nation. Treaty 6. Lives in Edmonton. Oral teaching. 4 April 2004. 
Note: If you would like to approach an Elder or Knowledge Keeper for teachings, remember to follow protocol or if you are unsure what their protocol is, please ask them ahead of time.