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Letter from the Editor: The Collegian's Land Acknowledgement

Kathleen Forrest


Graphic by Maizy Goerlitz

For the past two semesters, The Collegian has been working on a story (turned series of stories) regarding Willamette's Land Acknowledgement. We've worked to better understand its history and its implications and implementations, as well as the broader scholarship on Land Acknowledgments, and the work that is left to be done. We are still dedicated to this story and doing our due diligence on it, but we also want to apply what we've learned to our own practices as an institution. With what we've learned, we would like to put forth our own Land Acknowledgement, specific to The Collegian, which will be on our website, on our important documents, and read at any events or trainings we hold. We recognize that Land Acknowledgements alone are not a solution, but one step towards it, and we also aim to carry the intent of it in our work and our words.

Some of the initial language should be credited to the Anthropology department (now Global Cultural Studies) and Professor Rebecca Dobkins' variation on the Land Acknowledgement. We are grateful for all the work done by Indigenous scholars on this subject, and for the information that is made freely available on it. We are grateful to everyone who has taken part in this process, and engaged in conversation with us, and we hope to keep conversing on it.

"Willamette University is located on the homelands of the Kalapuyan peoples, who in 1855 signed a treaty with the US Federal government that dispossessed them of their lands, following encroachment and harassment by American settlers. This treaty made binding legal promises of resources, including education, in perpetuity to the Willamette Valley Kalapuyans, who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. These promises have largely not been honored. Willamette University can trace its history back to the Methodist mission schools that existed in this valley, this includes the 'Indian Manual Labor Training School' and other such institutions that once stood on this campus. These institutions were part of a campaign of colonialism, Christian evangelicalism, and cultural genocide perpetrated against the original peoples of this area, as well as being part of the greater history of colonialism in this country, this continent, and the world. We acknowledge that The Collegian, as a piece of this institution since 1889, has been a tool of colonialist, and otherwise problematic, rhetoric in the past. We acknowledge the space that we occupy on this land, as well as those who came before us, and the historical injustices and inaccuracies that we must strive to rectify in the future. We honor all past, present, and future Native and Indigenous students of Willamette and strive to give space for their voices and their stories."

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