“. . . we are gathered on the traditional, ancestral, unceded land of the Báxoǰe (Bah Kho-je) or Ioway, Sauk (Sac), and Meskwaki (Fox) peoples. We offer our respect to their elders both past and present, as well as future generations. We recognize that our presence here today is the result of the on-going exclusions and erasure of Indigenous peoples, who were the original stewards of this land. As these words of acknowledgment are spoken and heard, let the ties these Nations have to their traditional homelands be renewed and reaffirmed.”
We acknowledge Native American Heritage month, which officially begins tomorrow. Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to read the land acknowledgement above at the beginning of public events and gatherings and to include it in your email signature. The acknowledgement is one way to recognize the first peoples of the land on which this campus now sits and grow our consciousness of our shared history.
In an overwhelmingly non-Native campus community, it’s important we recognize that land relationships, treaties made and broken, and the ways we remember our nation’s origin stories create challenges for the 574 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages. Each of these communities has a unique history, culture, and contemporary experiences. (The overall population of Native peoples in the U.S. is 6.79 million people.)
The Meskwaki Nation or “People of the Red Earth” are the only federally recognized tribe in Iowa. I encourage you to read about the Meskwaki, which enrolls nearly 1,500 members, and to follow them on social media. They regularly identify ways those of us who are non-Native can support and advocate in solidarity with First Nations people.
I’m glad to have met first-year student Jasmine Scott this semester. Jasmine introduces herself in this month’s newsletter and is helping to organize a campus event celebrating Native American Heritage Month (see below and plan to come out!).
Also, over the next two weeks the entire first-year class will build a BLUEprint for belonging together. Teams of staff and faculty, PMAC mentors, and a local artist will support these community conversations (thank you, all!). The focus will be on strengthening relationships and personalizing student commitments to Drake’s DEIJ mission.
This year, the BLUEprint for Success course includes five weeks of new DEIJ curriculum, developed by a collaborative team under the leadership of Jazlin Coley, director of equity and inclusion, and includes a unit on the history of #PaintItBlack. The community conversations, specifically, have been designed to respond to our campus Welcome Week experience.
I share this to highlight one of our ongoing attempts to deepen and broaden our campus practices in ways that are both proactive and responsive. Watch for a summary of findings from those conversations in next month’s newsletter.