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Indigenous Peoples

A guide to help with research on indigenous people internationally, in the US/NC, and locally. This guide has specific focus on the culture and arts of peoples indigenous to NC.

What is a Land Acknowledgement

A land acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as original stewards of this land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous peoples and their traditional territories. 

The History 

Land Acknowledgement is a traditional custom that dates back centuries in many Native nations and communities. Land Acknowledgements as they are presently known originated in  Australia as “Welcome to Country”. This is a performance  that can only be conducted by an aboriginal person traditional owner. Began in the 1970’s and started to become customary in 1990’s spreading to Canada and then the United States as Land Acknowledgements or also known as a Territory Acknowledgements.

Land/ Territory Acknowledgements is a way that people insert an awareness of Indigenous presence and land rights in everyday life. These acknowledgements can be said by indigenous and non- indigenous persons. This is often done at the beginning of ceremonies, lectures, or any public event. It can be a subtle way to recognize the history of colonialism and a need for change in settler colonial societies.


The Purpose

To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose territory you reside on, and a way of honoring the Indigenous people who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial. It is important to understand the long-standing history that has brought you to reside on the land, and to seek to understand your place within that history. Land acknowledgements do not exist in a past tense, or historical context: colonialism is a current ongoing process, and we need to build our mindfulness of our present participation. It is also worth noting that acknowledging the land is Indigenous protocol.

Land acknowledgments can be perceived as performative, and are an active site of dialogue and discussion. 



To learn more about Land Acknowledgements visit these resources.