Land acknowledgments give thanks to the people who lived here first

Artists stress that organizations must follow words with action


November 22, 2022

David Joles, Star Tribune

Angela Two Stars was photographed by her work "Okciyapi" (meaning "help each other"), installed at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in 2021.

"Great," Angela Two Stars thinks when she hears a land acknowledgment. "And then what else?"

Land acknowledgments, part of Native cultures for centuries, have filtered into arts organizations in recent years. Guthrie Artistic Director Joseph Haj decided the theater needed an acknowledgment after hearing one at the 2018 Stratford Festival in Canada (according to the Theatre Communications Guild, many U.S. venues added them around that time). Two Stars recalls a 2018 panel discussion about crafting meaningful acknowledgments, which usually name the Native people who tended the land and thank them for it.

One memorable recent acknowledgment was led by Jim Rock and Babette Sandman for the Minnesota Book Awards. Rock, the director of Indigenous Programming and an astronomy professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, said the key is thankfulness.


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