The land upon which I live and work rightfully belongs to Mvskoke (Muscogee or Creek) and ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ (Aniyvwiyaʔi or Cherokee) peoples.
I begin my events and classes with a land acknowledgement like this. If you aren't aware whose land you're on, I encourage you to find out right now using this handy tool.
Why Land Acknowledgements?
Several Indigenous critics have problematized land acknowledgements, especially when they become simply a matter of "checking a box" or performative allyship. This isn't about feeling like a good person, it is a small, first step towards confronting settler colonialism as it organizes our lives and learning to live as more ethical relations.
When I ask my students if they are aware that the US committed genocide against Native American peoples, everyone raises their hands. When I ask them what they know about this genocide, very few are able to answer beyond the barest of outlines. Very few know whose land they grew up upon or whose land they are on now.
What does it mean that most settlers in the US are aware that they live in a society built on genocide but know so little about this history or the Indigenous present? When I pose this last question, my students are quick to point out that such a state of affairs would be unthinkable in other countries like Germany.
I give land acknowledgments for two main reasons:
The first is that Indigenous peoples are still here and are still sovereign nations. Widespread, colonial stereotypes represent Native American peoples as belonging to a "primitive" or "prehistorical" past or as having disappeared. The truth is that Indigenous peoples have persisted in spite of centuries of genocide. As the Maine Wabanaki-State Truth and Reconciliation Commission observed in 2015, that genocide continues to this day.
The second reason I give land acknowledgements is to recognize that we live in a settler state. Settler states must maintain and justify the continued dispossession of Indigenous land every day if they are to continue functioning as political and economic entities or claim any level of moral legitimacy. This ongoing dispossession of Indigenous land is the condition of possibility for settler wealth, law, and society. It is a condition of possibility for most of the institutions we live and work in. It is a condition of possibility for the conversation we're having right now.