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Indigenous Studies Resources

Land Acknowledgements

People lived on the San Francisco peninsula for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans.  In 1776, when the Spanish established the Presidio of San Francisco, and the Franciscans established Mission San Francisco de Asis at Dolores creek (Mission Dolores) there were 1500-2000 Ramaytush Ohlone people on the peninsula.  Some of their descendants survive and live here still.

ASUSF Indigenous Land Recognition Statement

(with pronunciation) 

As we share space to strengthen our journey towards consciousness & liberation, we must take time to acknowledge the difficult truths of our history that have shaped our current realities. 

Our collective relationship with Indigenous peoples by this institution, this city, this country, and this continent is in immediate and sincere need of reconciliation and reclamation.

Today, we cannot deny the story of this land and it’s truth that is too often untold. Today, we gather on unceded, stolen Ohlone (pronounced “óh-LONE-e”) territory. 

The Village of Yelamu (pronounced “ye-LA-moo”) is the territory of the Ramaytush (pronounced “RA-ma-toosh”) speaking people, one of eight nations now referred to as Ohlone. Even through devastating events, the Yelamu are still here and working tirelessly for their right to remain and evolve in the place we consider San Francisco. Many of us who have come to benefit from this land still participate in the ongoing displacement of its original stewards but we can choose to be better advocates and accomplices in favor of their restoration. 

We have the responsibility to Indigenize every space we occupy, we have the obligation, as guests, to inform ourselves about each region we visit; starting most intimately with the ones in which we reside - no matter how long-term or temporary our stay is, we must offer ourselves in the same way that we have gained from the injustices faced by Ohlone peoples and those beyond the Bay Area at the hands of colonial invasion.

Moving forward- we encourage the amplification of Indigenous land recognition at the beginning of dinner with our families; at every event, ceremony, and gathering that we organize and in our everyday walk as lifelong students.

As one Mutsun (pronounced “MOOT-sun”) Ohlone sister Kanyon (pronounced “CAN-yun”) Sayers-Roods says: “There have always been indigenous peoples in the spaces we call home, and there always will be,”

Today, as you reach another milestone in your journey, we hope that you embrace our call to use your influence as a resource for Indigenous liberation.

Credit statement for this Land Acknowledgment 

This should be included in any pamphlet or read as part of the statement.

The USF land acknowledgement statement was written by a fellow guest in Ohlone territory: Calina Lawrence, Suquamish Nation, USF Performing Arts and Social Justice Alumna, Class of 2016.

Contextualizing Land Acknowledgements

A land acknowledgement is simply that - an acknowledgement of harm, or of occupying Indigenous territories. The efficacy of land acknowledgements has been debated, and they are not a substitute for action to support Indigenous peoples. Dr. Kessler-Mata, with support from The Lane Center, published this white paper in 2022 - Recommendations From a Year of Discernment: Indigenous Engagement at USF. Section 1, "Leadership-driven outreach" states:

Because land acknowledgements are place-based efforts, it is important to ensure that the correct participants are at the table. The inclusion of tribal representatives in the development of a land acknowledgement also means that the process is likely to go beyond the performative. This is an important decision point for the University. If USF does not want to consider making additional commitments to the tribal communities and stepping into an unknown, then we should reconsider the purpose and reason for our effort.

USF has not adopted an official land acknowledgement to date. The campus community has utilized alumna Calina Lawrence’s Land Recognition Statement on an ad hoc basis since approximately 2017. Lawrence was a trailblazing Indigenous (Suquamish) student and we are grateful for her contributions to priming USF to engage in the land recognition process.  However, taking seriously our commitment to the local Indigenous community, Ramaytush, requires that USF leadership engage the tribe directly to communicate our intentions and our commitments, to hear them out, and to invest time and energy in building a lasting relationship with them. As an institution, we have a responsibility to reflect internally on what we are willing and able to do and to make meaningful commitments to local Indigenous communities. The land recognition process is one part of these processes and should manifest through them. It is an articulation of our commitment to Ramaytush and must be done in concert with them to ensure it is more than merely performative. 

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