Why Land Acknowledgements are a new Token of Liberal Progressivism at Independent Schools | Jenna Wolf & Jordan Clark | 7 Min Read

If you’ve attended a conference, academic gathering, or other progressive space in the last five years, chances are you’ve experienced one of liberal institutions’ favorite new tokens: the land acknowledgment. 

Meant to recognize the Indigenous peoples who call that place traditional homelands, it has become as much a staple of opening ceremonies as the name tag table.

As Indigenous educators working in independent schools, we have witnessed this evolution. To leave it out of gatherings means to hold a professional space ignorant of the United States’ lengthy program of extermination and eradication of our peoples. But on its own, it merely turns settlers into “woke” settlers. Often, being Indigenous in a progressive independent school environment is regularly experiencing “Settlers with Opinion as Daniel Heath Justice points out:” the distinct challenge of interacting with non-Indigenous people who hold opinions devoid of context.

Some of these territory acknowledgments are short. The simple, often freely available, statement on an institution’s website with an [insert Indigenous Nation or tribal peoples here] after a cursory search for who traditionally resided in that area pre-contact. 

The long-winded, but with more tribally-specific elements, signals more progressive, more thoughtful.

And of course, there are the ones…

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