Why acknowledge the land?

While the term “land acknowledgement” is fairly recent, the practice of acknowledging the land and the people who have stewarded it since time immemorial is an Indigenous practice. Here in the Puget Sound our people have the protocol of asking permission to come ashore. When our ancestors traveled by canoe to another territory, it was our protocol to stop offshore to announce our arrival, offer respect to the lands and the people, and ask permission to come ashore. Our people continue this practice today, both on and off the canoe.

In practicing a land acknowledgement you are recognizing that the land you’re standing on is stolen. We recognize the people and communities that cared for, and lived on, the lands since the beginning of time. We acknowledge their stewardship, their forced removal, and their continued fight to live on their ancestral lands.

Further, in practicing a land acknowledgement one is committing to being a steward of that land. It’s not solely about acknowledging the caretakers, but also the land itself. Each of us as human beings has a responsibility to care for the land. We must respect the land, the waters, the plants, and the animals. Without them we would not be able to live on the land to begin with.

One cannot offer empty words of acknowledgement. These acknowledgments are a commitment to the ongoing work of uplifting Native communities, and protecting the land and resources that sustain us.

Where to start:

We encourage you to personalize statements to align with the mission and values of your organization. Be mindful, though, not to stray too far from the core intention and message. It’s also important to recognize that some areas may be shared between multiple tribes. At times it’s appropriate to acknowledge multiple tribes, or to recognize the “Coast Salish tribes” as a whole. However, before incorporating tribal perspective be sure to contact official representatives from that/those tribe(s).

Here are some examples that can serve as starting points, or final versions, for your organization’s land acknowledgement:

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