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Land and Labor Acknowledgments

Resources for developing land and labor acknowledgments

What is a Land Acknowledgement?

"In recent years it has become a trend to acknowledge the traditional homelands of the Indigenous peoples of a particular area through a land acknowledgment. This undertaking has been created to bring awareness and understanding of indigenous peoples’ history and territories. But a land acknowledgment should also be more than that; it should be a call to rethink one’s relationship with the environment and all peoples’ histories. In partnership, the American Indian Center and the University of Chicago have crafted the following land acknowledgment to rethink their relationships with the city, land, and environment… [a land] acknowledgment demonstrates a commitment to beginning the process of dismantling the ongoing legacies of settler colonialism and genocide. As the following land acknowledgment is read, I ask you to recognize and challenge yourself to accept the stories of the indigenous people and commit to respecting the space that is being shared."

from Chicago as Sacred Ground A Winning Words Sourcebook

Land and Labor acknowledgment for UChicago

We inhabit, study, and work in the land of the Peoria, Miami, Kickapoo, and Potawatomi Nations. These lands were the home of these Native Nations prior to their forced removal and relocation. These lands continue to be embedded with the rich histories and struggles for survival of each nation.

UChicago does not exist independently from centuries of forced labor and economic extraction from enslaved African Americans. In 1857, Stephen A. Douglas donated 10 acres of land (valued today at approximately $1.2 million) for the initial construction of the University of Chicago. Though most of history remembers Douglas for his political career, the humans that he owned and amassed his fortune from have a starkly different recollection.

Written by Symphony Fletcher (Pritzker School of Medicine M.D. Candidate 2024) for "UC Juneteenth 2021: Reparations Panel"

Land and Labor History at UChicago and Chicago

All University of Chicago students receive FREE Basic Admission to the Field Museum for themselves plus one guest, as well as discounted admission rates to special exhibitions.

Academics and Staff can request free passes by contacting Human Resources.

Campus Resources

Land Acknowledgments in Chicago

"We want to respectfully recognize the Potawatomi, Miami, Peoria, and Kickapoo People, who have stewarded this land throughout the generations, the land that we call home and on which we create art. We want to acknowledge that we are on occupied land that was forcibly taken from its original owners. And we want to affirm that while we cannot change history, we can work for justice, and that justice begins with recognition and acknowledgment." SIlk Road Rising

Examples of Labor Acknowledgment

We recognize that the United States as we know it was built at the often-fatal expense of forcefully enslaved Black people. We must acknowledge that much of what we know of this country today, including its culture, economic growth, and development has been made possible by the labor of enslaved Africans and their descendants who suffered the horror of the transatlantic trafficking, chattel slavery, and, later on, dehumanization through segregation and Jim Crow laws.

We acknowledge and remember those who did not survive the Middle Passage, those who were beaten and lynched at the hands of White Americans, and those who are still suffering while fighting for their freedom. We remember those who toiled the ground where many theatres have been built and resurrected.

We are indebted to their labor and their unwilling sacrifice, and we must acknowledge the tremors of that violence throughout the generations and the resulting impact and generational trauma is still felt and witnessed today. Paramount Theatre, Aurora, IL

Black-led community orgs in Chicago

Resources and Readings

"Land acknowledgment statements are based on the protocols used by Indigenous communities, and yet in the contemporary context, many of the statements used by non-Indigenous institutions are speech acts that fail. If the goal is reconciliation, then the context of these statements must change in order for these statements to function successfully. Decolonial allies should be aware of these worries and ensure that this practice is not merely appropriated in order to alleviate settler colonial guilt."

Andrea Sullivan-Clarke, "Relations and How Decolonial Allies Acknowledge Land," Native American and Indigenous Philosophy 20.1 (12-16).

Subject Specialist

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Anne Knafl
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Contact:
Joseph Regenstein Library, Room 462
773-702-8442