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Beyond a Land Acknowledgement

In the first two years of the Conference on Academic Library Management (CALM), conference organizers offered a land acknowledgement statement to recognize the lands we collectively occupy and the Indigenous people from whom these lands were forcibly taken.


Then in 2023, upon further reflection on the practice of land acknowledgements, conference organizers worked to reexamine what has become an increasingly common occurrence at conferences and other large gatherings. We recognized the performativity of offering these statements, particularly given the emotional labor that this creates for our Indigenous colleagues and communities to help craft these statements, and the meaningful, reparative action that often fails to accompany them. This work was the beginning of our Beyond a Land Acknowledgment efforts.


During the 2023 CALM conference, we were grateful to partner with the Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF). The ILTF is a national, community-based, organization that works to promote education, increase cultural awareness, create economic opportunity, and reform the legal and administrative systems that prevent Indian people from owning and controlling their reservation lands and homelands. We encouraged our community to make a donation to ILTF’s Beyond a Land Acknowledgment Fund (link to below text. Over the course of the conference and immediately following, 214 donations totaling over $6,893 were reported among the CALM community as well as at least 1 to a similar Canadian foundation. According to ILTF leaders, “their contributions constitute the greatest number of individual donations the Foundation has ever received in such a limited amount of time.”


Going forward, we know that our work is not done. We ask that conference planners, presenters, sponsors, and attendees pause to reflect, examine, and shift their approach to land acknowledgements. If the intention of a land acknowledgment is to recognize and respect Indigenous peoples’ relationship to the land and to push non-Indigenous people to action to increase equity and sovereignty for Indigenous nations, then just reading a statement to each other without any meaningful action is the definition of performative.


We are holding ourselves accountable for a lack of both collective action and demonstrated support to be in community with Indigenous nations. We ask our CALM community to join us on this journey to reject the performativity of land acknowledgements, to examine our own individual relationships with the land we occupy, and to engage in meaningful activities to support reparative action for Indigenous communities.


For CALM 2024, we are hoping to work together to produce a list of those meaningful activities. As a community, we hope to have conversations, compile resources, and create a resource for anyone interested in moving beyond land acknowledgements into something more meaningful.


We seek to explore and discuss how this work can make us uncomfortable, and also how that discomfort can lead to community impact. Learning and financial support can be straightforward actions, yet we also want to disrupt virtue signaling. We want to consider the impact that our annual gathering within a virtual space has on our individual and collective relationships to the land. 


We do not have all the answers and hope to be transparent in our wrestling with the path forward. Some ideas we have discussed include:

  • Our relationship to private property.

  • Our overall lack of engagement with our local communities.

  • Our awareness of the need to center Indigenous knowledge while not appropriating it.

  • Our opportunity to question the practices at our current institutions that put us in direct conflict with the current power of the oppressors. 

  • Our complicity in colonialism.


Please look forward to invitations to conversations about this statement during the conference, as well as opportunities to share your thoughts via the CALM Discord and other asynchronous options. We have also shared a preliminary list of resources at the end of this page, though we expect this list to grow and expand throughout the conference with your input.


Beyond a Land Acknowledgement Resources List

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