Land Acknowledgment Resources
Our Land Acknowledgment
The Jane Addams Center for Civic Engagement sits on the original homeland of the Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Peoria, Sauk, Meskwaki, Bodéwadmiakiwen (Potawatomi), Myaamia (Miami), Waazija (Ho-Chunk / Winnebago), and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ peoples. We recognize the history of genocide and displacement to which these peoples were subjected, as well as the continuing impact of white supremacy and settler-colonialism on the lives of these peoples today. We affirm that advocacy for native peoples is an essential civic duty for all Americans. Therefore, we call on our staff, stakeholders, and friends to fulfill that duty by making contributions of money or time to Native-led movements for social justice.
What is a land acknowledgment?
A land acknowledgment is a statement made before an event recognizing the indigenous peoples who historically lived upon the location where the event is taking place. Land acknowledgments can be made by institutions as large as governments and university administrations, or by groups as small as sports teams and clubs.
Why should we recite land acknowledgments?
As Americans, we have a civic duty to acknowledge the terrible role that displacement and genocide of native peoples played in the foundation of this country, as well as to take action against the social and economic inequalities that still menace native communities to this day.
How should we recite land acknowledgments?
In order to learn how to properly recite an indigenous land acknowledgment, refer to this guide published by the Native Governance Center.
Generally, a proper land acknowledgment speaks to the past, present, and future of indigenous peoples. It emphasizes the role they played in the stewardship of their ancestral lands, and acknowledges that they were displaced from those lands by white supremacy and settler colonialism.
In forming your team or organization’s land acknowledgment, we recommend that you do your own research to discover which indigenous tribes lived in what is now the Rockford area. There are a number of resources online that will assist you in this process. Here is the list provided by one such resource, Native Land:
- Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo)
- Sauk and Meskwaki
- Bodéwadmiakiwen (Potawatomi)
- Myaamia (Miami)
- Waazija (Ho-Chunk / Winnebago)
- Očhéthi Šakówiŋ
How do we go beyond land acknowledgements?
Jane Addams once said: “Action indeed is the sole medium of expression for ethics.” When indigenous people educate non-indigenous people about proper land acknowledgment, their teachings are in the same vein. They extol the importance of going beyond land acknowledgment for land acknowledgment’s sake; of seeing the land acknowledgment as a vehicle for social justice.
In your land acknowledgments, make sure to provide concrete actions for people to take that materially benefit indigenous people, such as:
- Donating to an indigenous community or organization.
- Attending indigenous-led demonstrations; volunteering for indigenous-led social movements and campaigns.
- If they are a private landowner, paying a voluntary land tax.
More broadly, we recommend that you think critically about the intersections between indigenous people and your background, interests, and expertise. Consider the unique role your team or organization may play in securing justice for indigenous people, as well as what you can enact as an individual.
What challenges do indigenous people face today?
In order to better form your recommendations on actions to take in support of indigenous people, we recommend that you conduct your own research not only on the historical treatment of indigenous people by European settlers, but also on contemporary social and economic issues relating to indigenous peoples in North America today. These issues include, but are not limited to:
- Poverty – As of 2020, 1 in 3 Native Americans are living in poverty, with Native Americans having a median annual income of $23,000.
- Unemployment – As of 2019, the unemployment rate for Native Americans was 6.6%, considerably higher than the 3.9% national unemployment rate.
- Incarceration – As of 2015, Native American men are incarcerated at four times the rate of white men, and Native American women at six times the rate of white women.
- Access to education – As of 2020, just 17% of Native American students continue their education beyond high school compared to 60% of students of nationally.
- Violence against women – As of 2020, 84% of Native women report experiencing violence at some point in their lives; Native women and girls are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than other ethnicities.
- Medical racism – Serious allegations of abuse and malpractice have plagued the Indian Health Service, a federal agency providing healthcare to Native Americans, throughout its history. In 1976, the U.S. government reported that between 1973 and 1976, Indian Health Service personnel sterilized 3,406 Native women without their consent.
- Sovereignty – Self-determination of Native tribes today is parceled and controlled by treaties, laws, executive orders, and government agencies whose implementations span over the centuries.
- Environmental devastation – Often against the will of Native people, tribal lands have been made hosts of oil pipelines and have been exposed to other sources of environmental contamination.
For additional information and resources, refer to this page compiled by the Native Governance Center.