What is a Land Acknowledgement?
A land acknowledgement is an honest and historically true manner to appreciate and respect Indigenous people as original stewards of the Land. Land acknowledgements can be verbal - a simple greeting or word offering - and/or visual - written statements, artwork, signage, or even theatrical or physical displays. Most typical at higher education institutions are written statements. These statements highlight the enduring and inseparable relationship between Indigenous people and their traditional territories. Certainly, any entity of any level is invited to create and share meaningful and accurate land acknowledgements, designed with a collaborative commitment to and in relation with the people whom they represent.
Why Recognize the Land?
Like us, Mother Earth is resilient. She can rebound and find better health again. Imagine the world we can have when we are not only more careful stewards of our land but also finer partners with each other.
For Indigenous people, land is central to all facets of life. Land is shared, respected, honored and loved. There exists a giving relationship that is built on integrity and fosters an exchange between the Land and its Indigenous people. Mother Earth provides wisdom, spirituality, a sense of place and self - and, ultimately, life. Care of the Land is collective and passed down among generations.
All land in the State of Arizona, the United States and throughout much of the globe was once Indigenous territory, inhumanely and unjustly removed from its original caretakers. The recognition of this relationship through formal affirmation honors the Indigenous people who have lived and worked in these spaces from time immemorial. Further, land acknowledgements communicate not only the importance of land to Indigenous people but also the effects of oppressive power systems on Indigenous people - as well as how that oppression has historically impacted, and continues to impact, the interactions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Acknowledgements help repair bonds with Indigenous communities and create capacity for their people to feel welcomed and seen. We collectively understand that land affirmations do not absolve settler-colonial privilege or diminish colonial structures of violence, at either the individual or institutional level. Land acknowledgements must be coupled with ongoing and unwavering commitments to our Indigenous communities. True stories of the Land’s original people can be told. Also noteworthy is that acknowledging the Land is a practice of Indigenous people; spaces are opened with reverence and respect. Ultimately, land acknowledgements help inspire action from all of our communities to be more aware, inclusive and respectful.
SCC Land Acknowledgement Formats and Use
Scottsdale Community College (SCC) resides on the land of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRP-MIC). The American Indian Program and Planning Committee, which is housed in SCC’s Indigenous Cultural Center (ICC), has worked to create land acknowledgment statements that rightfully recognize the history of the SRP-MIC and its people, the Onk Akimel O’odham (Pima) and the Xalychidom Piipaash (Maricopa).
The mission of the ICC is to engage Indigenous students at SCC academically, intellectually and culturally. The cultivation of a welcoming and far-reaching environment enhances the overall experience of Indigenous students. Efforts continue to educate SCC’s campus and its communities on the value of diversity and inclusion.
Scottsdale Community College is located on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the traditional lands of the Onk Akimel O’odham (Pima) and the Xalychidom Piipaash (Maricopa).
Scottsdale Community College (SCC) credits the diverse Indigenous people still connected to the land on which we gather. Our college resides on the ancient lands of the Huhugam, ancestors to the O’odham and tribal territory of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRP-MIC). SRP-MIC is a federally recognized tribe - one of 22 Arizona Indigenous tribes and one of 574 across the United States. Attached to this physical space is a painful history of forced removal and the resulting intentional genocide of its Indigenous people. We remain appreciative of our ability to teach, learn and serve in a space of such importance and reverence.
SCC acknowledges the land on which we are situated today as the traditional land and home of two distinct tribal nations: the Onk Akimel O’odham (Pima) and the Xalychidom Piipaash (Maricopa). We take this opportunity to thank the original caretakers of this land, the Huhugam. We offer our respect to all O'odham and Piipaash of the past, present and future.
Uniquely situated, Scottsdale Community College (SCC) is located on land leased from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRP-MIC) by the Maricopa County Community Colleges District (MCCCD). SRP-MIC is a sovereign nation located in the metropolitan Phoenix area. Established in 1879, the Community operates as a full-service government and oversees departments, programs, projects and facilities. Located in Maricopa County and bound by the cities of Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa and Fountain Hills. SRP-MIC encompasses about 47,000 acres, with 19,000 held as a natural preserve. The center of their aboriginal territory is located in what is now called the Phoenix Valley, but their villages and farms previously occupied vast stretches of land along the Gila and Salt Rivers. All Indigenous nations across our country and world are welcomed by SCC to lend their unique spiritual, cultural and economic richness to the College.
At Scottsdale Community College (SCC), land acknowledgement statements can be used in email or syllabi, read aloud or distributed by anyone who wishes to use them - at public or private events - on college property. This also includes meetings, classes and experiences hosted virtually by representatives of SCC. Use should be respectful in its delivery, taking time to pronounce unfamiliar names and words correctly (see below). Feel free to reach out to our Office of American Indian Program for assistance.
Consider, too, the feelings of self and others, during the sharing of land acknowledgements. For most, the statements or physical representations contradict traditional school teachings. Personal introspection and group awareness can eventually lead to community growth and inclusion. SCC is indeed a special place; and, those that teach, learn and serve here now are not the first people to feel that way.