Western Michigan University became the latest institution to acknowledge its place on historically indigenous land when its Board of Trustees approved a public statement at a recent meeting.
Such statements, known also as a land acknowledgement, ask people to consider and reflect upon the historical occupants of the land they currently inhabit and have become a trend among universities, museums, and other organizations in recent years. WMU’s statement reads:
“We would like to recognize Western Michigan University is located on lands historically occupied by Ojibwe, Odawa, and Bodewadmi nations. Please take a moment to acknowledge and honor this ancestral land of the Three Fires Confederacy, the sacred lands of all indigenous peoples and their continued presence.”
Graduate students at Western started the process that lead to the statement. The students worked with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi (Gun Lake Tribe), and the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi. Representatives from each tribe attended, including Julie Dye of the Elders Council and Sam Moreseau and Donald Sumners of the Education Department, and gifted WMU President Edward Montgomery with a blanket at the meeting.
The university plans to read the statement at commencement ceremonies, convocations, and it's posted to its website.