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The Importance of Land Acknowledgement

Are you practicing land acknowledgement?

Most people I ask are not familiar with this term.

As November marks American Indian Heritage Month, Thanksgiving, and Native American Heritage Day, I thought it would be a good opportunity to discuss a practice I have found meaningful and would like to continue to see expand, especially in the real estate industry. While many take this time of year to reflect on what they are thankful for, it is also a time to remember the violence and oppression that Native Americans have historically faced in this country.

Growing up in Minnesota, a state whose name comes from a Dakota word (Mni Sota Makoce), understanding our relationship to the indigenous people and their lands has always been close to me. I was fortunate to be educated about this from a very young age and grew a deep respect for the indigenous people and their culture that I continue to carry today.

So, what is land acknowledgement?

Essentially, it’s a formal statement paying homage to the indigenous people who originally inhabited the land upon which you are building, living, or using and recognizing them as the traditional stewards of the land.

Before you begin, please note this should NOT be used as a marketing gimmick or looked at as a box to check on your marketing list. Rather, land acknowledgement should be a part of your marketing strategy with actions that go beyond a statement to support the indigenous people. 

To begin your land acknowledgement journey here are a few ideas to start your research:

  • The indigenous people to whom the land belongs.
  • Indigenous place names and language.
  • The history of the land and any related treaties.
  • Names of individual people from these communities.
  • Correct pronunciation for the names of the Tribes, places and individuals that you’re including.

Make your statement clear and don’t sugarcoat the past. Embrace the history and celebrate the new relationship you hope to instill with the indigenous people.

If you are considering adding a statement to your property website, I commend your efforts and it is my hope that your statement is just a starting point.

That said, don’t get caught up on the language you use. Instead, spend more time thinking about and taking action to support indigenous communities. Here are a few ways you can do that:

  • Build real, authentic relationships with indigenous people.
  • Donate your time/money to indigenous organizations.
  • Support indigenous-led grassroots movements.
  • Be considerate of the emotional weight this topic can carry.
  • Ask how you can help!

Next time you are visiting a property, just think…

Have you or your organization taken any steps to recognize and support the indigenous people who originally inhabited this land?

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