Introduction to Land Acknowledgements

The Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging supports the work of the KU Office of Native American Initiatives and the Kansas Association for Native American Education (KANAE). NAI, in partnership with KANAE, spent several months in 2022 developing a guide for those interested in land acknowledgements in the state of Kansas.

KANAE Website

KU Native American Initiatives

Introduction

Excerpt from KANAE Land Acknowledgement Toolkit

As more institutions of education in Kansas work to create culturally responsive and inclusive learning environments for their students and stakeholders, many leaders look to their Native American community members to construct a land acknowledgement. The land in what is now Kansas is part of the ancestral homeland of numerous Indigenous nations. Kansas was also once Indian territory, and many Native nations were forcibly moved to, or through, this state. Today, four federally recognized nations retain a reservation land-base in Kansas, and other nations still hold tracts of land in various places throughout the state. Therefore, doing a land acknowledgement in Kansas can be a complex undertaking.

Additionally, there are legitimate criticisms that have been raised nation-wide about how land acknowledgement practices can be shallow, under-researched, and/or simply performative in nature, with little substantive action tied to Indigenous nations, communities, and peoples. In light of these challenges, the Kansas Association for Native American Education (KANAE) developed this toolkit to help educators in Kansas construct their own land acknowledgements in a more accurate, appropriate, and responsible manner.

To that aim, a land acknowledgement should prioritize building relationships and a knowledge-base rather than simply creating a static statement. This toolkit, like the land acknowledgement you will create, is an evolving document that will likely be updated in the future as we all try to refine this relatively new practice in our institutions of education. 

A note on terms: We recognize that broad terms like Indigenous, American Indian, and/or Native American, and specific tribal affiliations are used differently in every community, and there are ongoing debates about which terms should be prioritized.  

Why doesn't KU have a university-wide land acknowledgement?

The University has taken steps to actively listen to our Native community and leaders on campus about our commitment to the Native and Indigenous community. Many folks have expressed complex feelings about the institution having a blanket land acknowledgement statement, while others find land acknowledgements as representation at KU. As such, the Office of the Provost - in community with the Offices of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging and Native American Initiatives - is exploring ways that KU can demonstrate a commitment to Native and Indigenous people through both words and, more importantly, actions.

I want a land acknowledgement. Where should I begin?

You should begin by reading the Land Acknowledgement Toolkit and following their recommendations.

For more Frequently Asked Questions, please visit the Native American Initiatives at KU website.

Land Acknowledgement Toolkit (PDF)