Land acknowledgements


A territorial or land acknowledgement is a statement that shows recognition and respect for the relationship that exists between Indigenous peoples and their traditional territories. The tradition of acknowledging the territory you are on is rooted in ancient Indigenous diplomatic custom. As an act of reconciliation, offering a territorial or land acknowledgement is a way to communicate your understanding of the impact colonization had, and continues to have on Indigenous people. While acknowledgements are common practice in many parts of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and they are becoming more common in parts of the USA, if you live in a country with a colonial history, it is important to learn about the impact of colonization on Indigenous people and to acknowledge this, if appropriate, through a territorial acknowledgement. 


The Government of Canada outlines key aspects to consider when creating your territorial or land acknowledgement. It is important to take some time to research the history of the land you are on and how the land should be referenced: traditional territory, territory, or if there isn’t a modern territorial agreement or treaty in place, unceded traditional territory. In your research you may also learn that multiple Indigenous Nations occupy the same territory. If that is the case, it is important to mention all the Nations in your territorial acknowledgement. It is also important to try and learn how to pronounce the traditional names of the Indigenous people in your area. When developing your territorial acknowledgement, it is important to remember that it should be meaningful and reflective, and grounded in learning. The Native Governance Center highlights the importance of self-reflection, particularly in relation to feelings of guilt, and emphasizes the importance of conducting your own research. Rather than following a script it is important to do some research about the Indigenous people in your area and to create a statement that shows your acknowledgement of the land you live, work, and play on and the people who are the stewards of the land since time immemorial. The US Department of Arts and Culture provides a guide for developing land acknowledgements and how to move beyond words towards action.