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Land Acknowledgement

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


Now in our third year, we have further reflected upon the practice of land acknowledgements and instead would like to reexamine what has become an increasingly common occurrence at conferences and other large gatherings. We recognize 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. 


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 significant impact 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.


We seek to explore how this work can make us uncomfortable, and also how that discomfort can lead to community impact. Learning and financial support can be easy 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 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 join us in these conversations, whether in our conference sessions, discussion groups, the CALM Discord, or in forthcoming community chats. We have also shared a list of resources at the end of this page.


This year, we are 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 encourage our community to make a donation to ILTF this year in lieu of what you would pay for a conference registration fee. If all of our attendees donate $20, we would raise $18,000 for ILTF—equivalent to the cost of putting on CALM this year.


Please make your donation directly through the ILTF website, and select the “Beyond Land Acknowledgement Fund” as the purpose for your gift. So that we may track the impact of the CALM community, we would appreciate it if you would also self-report your gift on this anonymous form if you do choose to donate to ILTF.


More about the Beyond Land Acknowledgement Fund:


Since its inception in 2002, ILTF has been making a positive impact on the lives of Native Americans through a variety of innovative programs and grants, including the newly established Beyond Land Acknowledgement Fund. Many local governments, universities and other entities make land acknowledgement statements at press conferences, community gatherings and public events, or they publicize their statements online. While an important first step, many of these types of statements rest on lip service. They provide nice press coverage for the organizations who publish them, but they never result in any behavioral changes or land back to tribes. Thanks to a seed grant from a Minneapolis church congregation, in the amount of $250,000, ILTF has launched the Beyond Land Acknowledgement Fund, which provides a vehicle for organizations that want to take that next step and actually do something about returning land and making it right. This new fund allows ILTF to pool money to make land purchases. Contributions received to date make it plain that the commitment of more public support for the work and benefit of Indigenous communities is an idea whose time has come. As a community foundation, ILTF accepts contributions from foundations, tribes, corporations, organizations and individuals to support its grant making and program initiatives.


Beyond a Land Acknowledgement Resources List

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