Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity > Land Acknowledgement

Land Acknowledgement

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​DePaul University's Land Acknowledgement

At DePaul University, we acknowledge that we live and work on traditional Native lands that are today home to representatives of well over one hundred different tribal nations. We extend our respect to all of them, including the Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Odawa nations, who signed the Treaty of Chicago in 1821 and 1833. We also recognize the Ho-Chunk, Myaamia, Menominee, Illinois Confederacy, and Peoria people who also maintained relationships with this land.

We acknowledge that these sacred homelands were ruptured by the European invasion of the Americas. In 1493, Pope Alexander VI promulgated the Doctrine of Discovery, which seized Native lands and resources with impunity.  This doctrine has been used by countries throughout the Americas, including the U.S., to legitimize colonial policies of displacement and genocide toward Native peoples and to justify colonial legacies of white superiority and global capitalism. 

We appreciate that today Chicago is home to one of the largest urban Native population in the United States. We further recognize and support the enduring presence of Native peoples among our faculty, staff, and student body.  And in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, we reaffirm our commitment, both as an institution and as individuals, to help make our community and our society a more equitable, welcoming, and just place for all.  



In the summer of 2020, the OIDE staff began researching territory acknowledgements. The process expanded in August when a group of faculty and staff planning the Dolores Huerta Annual Celebration discussed the possibility of having a land acknowledgment as part of the annual program. Several departments at DePaul had land acknowledgments, but the university did not have a universal official statement. Throughout 2020 and 2021, the OIDE worked with faculty, staff, and alums to draft an official university statement. The OIDE collaborated with colleagues from Religious Studies and members of the Native People community to craft the university statement. The drafting process was rigorous, researched, and written in collaboration with the DePaul Community.

The core committee included Dr. Chris Tirres, Dr. Lisa Poirier, Jose Perales, and Dr. Elizabeth Ortiz. To begin the process, the committee researched land acknowledgements. The committee attended a virtual workshop on Land Acknowledgements at the Field Museum and consulted with the American Indian Center of Chicago. Through this research, the committee learned that, in some cases, organizations could get the statement wrong, and it was agreed that the final document would be an organic statement that would evolve as needed.

The final draft was socialized through the DePaul’s shared governance process. The statement was also shared with  Native students, faculty, and staff. The OIDE hosted four drafting meetings and responded to emails and revisions electronically. The Land acknowledgement went through nine revisions based on feedback and continual rewriting. The group believed that as a Catholic University, we needed to acknowledge the Catholic Church's role in colonization. Also, we learned through our consultation that statements should recognize the past while focusing on commitments to the present and future state of Native Peoples. The committee tried to capture all these elements in the document. Lastly, the statement was presented to Staff, Faculty, and Joint Councils in the Spring of 2021. The DePaul University Land Acknowledgement was first shared with the DePaul community as part of the White Fragility lecture by Dr. Robin DiAngelo on April 15, 2021.

The committee realizes that a Land Acknowledgement statement is just the beginning, and that programming and resources must be a part of our institutional commitment to Native People. In Spring 2021, the OIDE website included the Land Acknowledgement, which was incorporated as an official university document and process. For more information or to submit comments please contact diversitymatters@depaul.edu.

"To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose territory you reside on, and a way of honoring the Indigenous people who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial. It is important to understand the long-standing history that has brought you to reside on the land, and to seek to understand your place within that history. Land acknowledgments do not exist in a past tense, or historical context: colonialism is a current ongoing process, and we need to build our mindfulness of our present participation. It is also worth noting that acknowledging the land is Indigenous protocol."

Reference: Laurier Students' Public Interest Research Group

"Acknowledging the land alone is not enough; it is a starting point. To further show your support to Indigenous people, consider donating your time and/or money to Indigenous organizations, support grassroots change movements and campaigns led by Indigenous people, and/or learn about your options to return land to the Indigenous people."

Reference: Native Governance Center 

 

Land acknowledgements can be read before university-wide meetings, events, trainings, and large public gatherings in our community.

We recognize the land we occupy is native land. We had a part in the history of stolen land, we recognize the native people who are part of our community, and we work toward a better future.

Tips When Reading the Land Acknowledgement

  ·  The person who gives the acknowledgment should be the event or meeting's host.

  ·  Whenever you give a presentation or hold a meeting, whether or not Indigenous people are in attendance, provide a formal thank you to the host country. 

  ·  If you don't know the name of the tribe whose territory or treaty land the structure is on, inquire and research.

  ·  If you need assistance with the pronunciation, seek assistance, research, and look for recordings on Native Nations pronunciations.

A land acknowledgment has purpose. It is a way to incorporate mindfulness into whatever meeting you are attending. It should be rooted in the dignity of native people whose land you are standing upon.

Reference: Laurier Students' Public Interest Research Group

Pronunciation

Ho-Chunk is pronounced: ho·chunk. To listen, click here: pronunciation of Ho-Chunk

Myammia ia pronounced: mee·ah·mee·ah. To listen, click here: pronunciation of Myaamia

Menominee is pronounced: muh·naa·muh·nee. To listen, click here: pronunciation of Menominee

Other Resources

Midwest Soarring Foundation

Chicago American Indian Community Collaborative

American Indian Association of Illinois

The Doctrine of Discovery

The Treaty of Chicago

 
 

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