I would encourage all of you to consider the land you sit on.
How did you come to reside there?
What is your relationship to that particular place on Turtle Island?
Do you know who the original inhabitants of that place are?
Do you have a relationship with them?
Do you have a relationship with the land and all of Creation
where you are?
If not, perhaps it is time to consider these things. Nyawen.–Kanonhsyonne Janice C. Hill , in Rethinking the Practice and Performance of Indigenous Land Acknowledgement, 2019
Taking time and space in your course to acknowledge the indigenous peoples and land the university occupies can be a powerful way of recognizing occluded histories and interrupting the silencing colonial logics of the US education system. As Selena Couture points out, "A territorial acknowledgment can be a pointer that indicates there is another world of knowledge and way of being that is other than the one that is currently naturalized in a colonial site...When land acknowledgments disrupt expectations and create discomfort amongst those who are unaware of their comfort in a settler colonial institution, they have the power to transform" (Rethinking the Practice and Performance of Indigenous Land Acknowledgment 28-29). As scholars such as Dylan Robinson, Kanonhsyonne Janice C. Hill, Armand Garnet Ruffo and Lisa Cooke Ravensbergen warn however, one needs to carefully examine the intention behind making the acknowledgment. "To be meaningful and respectful," reminds Kanonhysyonne Janice C. Hill , "a territorial acknowledgement needs to be intentional, and not something done by rote, to check a box" (24). Please find here a brief series of presentations by the aforementioned scholars which helps to highlight both the importance of indigenous land acknowledgment, as well as its challenges. You can also visit the Native Governance Center's guide to indigenous land acknowledgment here. Below are two examples of land acknowledgements used by our instructors, in relation to the Lenape peoples and land, where the University of Delaware sits.
The first is from the syllabus of Eric Morel's ENGL 110 General Section, taught in the Fall of 2020, online, synchronous- full syllabus here.
Acknowledging Our Situated Learning
As far as I know, the University of Delaware has no official acknowledgement recognizing that the land of this university has traditionally homed Lenape People. Although our class will not directly teach any material about the history of Lenape displacement or the current status of Lenape descendants in the U.S. State of Oklahoma or elsewhere, there could be opportunities to pursue learning about such links if they’re of interest to you. Even so, it behooves us all to acknowledge and respect that science—which we will discuss centrally—has played direct and indirect roles in how we, as mostly settler colonists, came to this University of Delaware. I encourage any of you to think at any point about how course learning could contribute to restorative justice in this regard, and I’m happy to be your resource.
The second is from Tiffany Probasco's workshop on Intersectional Pedagogies, conducted for English Department faculty in the Fall of 2020 as part of the Teaching Race Workshop series. Tiffany used land acknowledgement as a way to demonstrate to the workshop participants how antiracist work needs to change in the way it is approached. Writes Tiffany, "Black culture, like many BiPOC cultures, is a 'seeing' culture. Therefore, acknowledgement and tone setting are critical practices to invite engagement. If you would like to incorporate a land acknowledgement into your practice, The Native Governance center has a useful guide. The language below that was used in this workshop was taken from the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation website here."