Guide to Land Acknowledgements

A land acknowledgement is an optional statement, often given at the beginning of organized events, celebrations and activities, or published in printed materials. A shortened land acknowledgement can also be used for email signatures. The purpose of a land acknowledgement is to recognize, respect and affirm the ongoing relationship between Indigenous people and the land. Land acknowledgements also raise awareness about the Indigenous histories, perspectives and experiences that are often suppressed or forgotten.

Giving a Land Acknowledgement

There are hundreds of Indigenous communities across the United States. Giving a land acknowledgement requires research and reflection to understand the historical and contemporary Indigenous communities having a relationship with the land. A land acknowledgement can be a few sentences or several pages. It is important the statement honors and names the communities, and recognizes the occupied or unceded nature and history of the land. Although land acknowledgements are powerful statements, they are only meaningful when they are coupled with authentic and sustained relationships with Indigenous communities and community-informed actions.

MSU Land Acknowledgement

The MSU Native American Institute provides a land acknowledgement for the university based to raise awareness about the Indigenous histories, perspectives and experiences that took place before Michigan State University.

Michigan-Agricultural-College-Map-1857
A Michigan Agricultural College map from 1857 overlaid with a modern map of Michigan State University. The circled area indicates the location of the Native encampment in 1857.

Land Acknowledgement for Michigan State University

“Michigan State University occupies the ancestral, traditional and contemporary lands of the Anishinaabeg – Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi peoples. In particular, the university resides on land ceded in the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw. We recognize Michigan’s 12 federally recognized Native Nations, historic Indigenous communities in Michigan, Indigenous individuals and communities who live here now, and those who were forcibly removed from their homelands. In offering this land acknowledgement, we affirm Indigenous sovereignty, history and experiences.”

Shortened Land Acknowledgement for Michigan State University

“Michigan State University occupies the ancestral, traditional and contemporary lands of the Anishinaabeg – Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi peoples. The university resides on land ceded in the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw.”