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Michigan State University

Decolonize the University

Created Spring 2023

What is a Land Acknowledgement?

A Land Acknowledgement or Land Recognition is a formal statement, often given orally at the beginning of organized events, celebrations, or activities. It recognizes, respects, and affirms that there is an irreducible and ongoing relationship between Indigenous people and the Land. Land Acknowledgements are especially important in contemporary nation-states, like the US and Canada, in which the political structures are based on settler-colonialism and theft of Lands from Indigenous peoples. Land Acknowledgements or Land Recognitions serve to illuminate ongoing Indigenous presence, as well as recognize and counter settler-colonial legacies of violence and Land expropriation.

Land Acknowledgements are a responsibility.

We respect the desire to recognize the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary stewards of the Land. However, we ask that when offering a Land Acknowledgement, remember that these Acknowledgements must be preceded by relationships with living Indigenous people, communities, and nations. This declaration must then be followed with ongoing commitments to these same communities. Land Acknowledgements are a responsibility.

Go beyond acknowledging.

When you give or hear a land acknowledgement from the stolen lands on which Michigan State University resides, consider making a donation to the American Indian & Indigenous Studies program. These funds will be used for Indigenous programming at MSU and within the local community. Learn more at

Learn More

Much thanks and gratitude to Melissa Horner (Manitoba Métis Federation/Turtle Mountain Anishinaabe), PhD candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Missouri, who compiled these resources to educate others.

Guides and Tutorials

Indigenous Land Acknowledgement by Native Governance Center

How to Come Correct by Sogorea Te' Land Trust Led by Indigenous Women

LandBack University by NDN Collective


Exploring the Land Acknowledgement: Intentionality in Acknowledging Indigenous Lands and Places by Horner (2021)

Indigenous Land Grab: Exploring University of Missouri as a Land-Grant Institution moderated by Horner (2020)


Are you Planning to do a Land Acknowledgement? by Reese (2019)

News Articles

Land Acknowledgments Meant to Honor Indigenous People too Often do the Opposite—Erasing American Indians and Sanitizing History Instead by Sobo and Lambert (2021)

Land-Grab Universities by Lee and Ahtone (2020)

How a Civil War-era Law turned Native American Land into University Endowments: The University of Missouri, and Many others, Benefit from the Dispossession of Native Americans through Land Grants by Lovell (2020)

Scholarly Articles

Performance or Progress? The Physical and Rhetorical Removal of Indigenous Peoples in Settler Land Acknowledgments at Land-Grab Universities by Theresa Ambo and Theresa Rocha Beardall (2022)

Beyond Land Acknowledgment in Settler Institutions by Theresa Stewart-Ambo and K. Wayne Yang (2021)