We owe Indigenous People in our state and nation a debt far more substantive and long-lasting
than a single act of acknowledgment. These resources will assist the TU community
in ongoing education, conversation, reflection and action. We hope that each of us
will commit to identifying meaningful and authentic ways to acknowledge, recognize
Recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day
In 1977, the United Nations held the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas in Geneva, Switzerland. This was the first U.N. conference with Indigenous
delegates and the first time that Native peoples were invited to participate. A resolution
proposed by a delegation of Native nations was passed to recognize “International
Day of Solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas.”
Today, more than eight states and 100 cities, towns and counties across the country
have officially recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Baltimore City will recognize
it as a legal holiday for the first time this year. We ask that our entire TU community
join us in recognizing the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
In TU’s inaugural Diversity Strategic Plan released last year, we stated that part of our commitment to diversity, equity and
inclusion involves acknowledging that this work “has its roots in a past rich with
complex stories of success, pain, accomplishment, struggle and, ultimately, hope that
TU will continue to move forward with a reconciled and more inclusive history.” The
goal is to tell a more complete, complex and reconciled history of the land and native
peoples of our region and state.
An acknowledgment of the land is rooted in indigenous practices. At least eight known
nations or groups of American Indians are native to Maryland including the Susquehannock
and the Nentego (Nanticoke). Today, the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs serves the following Maryland Indigenous communities:
Accohannock Indian Tribe
Assateague Peoples Tribe
Nause-Waiwash Band of Indians
Piscataway Conoy Tribe
Piscataway Indian Nation
Pocomoke Indian Nation
Youghiogheny River Band of Shawnee Indians
The Office of Inclusion & Institutional Equity will continue to provide resources and opportunities for our entire TU community
to reflect, converse and identify meaningful ways to recognize Indigenous Peoples’
Day, acknowledge the land now occupied by Towson University and continue this work
throughout the year.
Supporting Indigenous Communities
Before looking for land acknowledgment language, or taking time to craft your own,
first create a long-term plan of action to support Indigenous communities in the future.
Begin with a Self-Assessment
explore the ways you may be inadvertently appropriating Native culture and causing
examine how often you are hiring or supporting Native entrepreneurs, businesses, artists
and other vendors
research how your local legislators, candidates and municipalities prioritize and
advocate for Native nations near you
explore how you can adventure more responsibly
plan your itinerary in a way that respects Indigenous sacred sites and Native nations’
sovereignty and helps protects fragile ecosystems
research any boundaries, rules and guidelines to avoid harming Native nations and
Develop a Concrete Plan of Action
identify concrete and realistic steps, turn them into achievable goals
be willing to share your plan with others while also making time and space with colleagues,
friends, family, neighbors and others to share plans of action
keep your plan with you, where it is easily accessible
track your progress, hold yourself accountable and focus on progress, not perfection
make an ongoing commitment to do better
Personalizing the Indigenous Land Acknowledgment
The Indigenous Land Acknowledgment is not something you “just read.” It is an opportunity
for the entire TU community to increase their awareness of the history of the land
on which TU resides and the Native peoples of this region.
The following guidelines are meant to assist with the preparation and delivery of
the indigenous land acknowledgment.
Your prepared text should be clear and concise.
You have researched and confirmed the specific names of relevant indigenous nations,
tribes, groups and/or sub-groups. You have confirmed proper spelling and have practiced
pronunciation in advance.
You have researched any competing Indigenous claims to specific areas and any of the
local Indigenous groups in other locations.
Your text should acknowledge that occupied land was not freely nor willingly given.
Your acknowledgment should have a personal component; it is an opportunity for you to model reflection and action, moving beyond simply
reading boilerplate language repeatedly.
OIIE leadership is working with a coalition of local institutions, nonprofit organizations,
and state agencies in meeting with and compensating local elders for their guidance
on indigenous acknowledgments. As this work continues, the language below will be
Suggested format for using TU's Indigenous Land Acknowledgment:
[Consider incorporating here a personalized introduction where you share your own
thoughts and reflections of what acknowledging indigenous people and the land TU occupies
means to you.]
TU's acknowledgment language:
Towson University seeks to cultivate relationships with Native American and Indigenous
communities and nations through academic pursuits, partnerships, historical recognitions,
community service and enrollment efforts. These communities and nations include the
Susquehannock, Nentego (Nanticoke) and the Piscataway people, who consider the land
that the university currently occupies part of their ancient homeland.
Conclusion language: use the following as a guide, consider including a connection
to the specific event you are convening.
We hereby acknowledge the ground on which we reside so that all who come here know
that we recognize our institutional history and our responsibilities to the peoples
of that land, and that we strive to address that history so that it guides our work
in the present and the future.
Research and Resources
The following research and resources provide guidance and education, while also strengthening
community relationships with Indigenous populations.
Do your homework to ensure you research all of the following:
the Indigenous People to whom the land belongs
the history of the land and any related treaties
Names of living Indigenous People from these communities. If you are presenting on
behalf of your work in a certain field, highlight Indigenous People who currently
work in that field.
indigenous place names and language
correct pronunciation for the names of the Tribes, places and individuals that you
Use appropriate language and do not sugarcoat it, but also don’t make it grim but
Use past, present and future tenses.
Do not ask an Indigenous person to deliver the statement.
Alone a land acknowledgment is not enough, how are we supporting Indigenous populations
moving forward now?
Native Governance Center
Native Governance Center is a Native-led nonprofit organization that serves Native nations in Mni Sota Makoce,
North Dakota and South Dakota. They support Native leaders as they work to rebuild
their nations through the leadership development and Tribal governance support programs.
They believe that strengthening governance is a direct pathway toward improving quality
of life for Native people.
What they aim to do: “prioritize cultural heritage preservation and education programs,
with health, housing and employment-related services provided on an ad hoc basis.”
Teachers and Researchers United
Teachers and Researchers United (TRU) is a movement of graduate student workers unionizing at Johns Hopkins University
working to win improvements in our working conditions, and more importantly to build
a powerful voice for graduate workers.