Thinking On Our Feet: Why We Offer A Land Acknowledgment

Thinking On Our Feet: Why We Offer A Land Acknowledgment

By Sariya Jarasviroj Brown

Video Courtesy of Emma Maruska and Rachel Quinn

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Study Group and Committee at Tucson Waldorf School acknowledges that the lands on which we teach, learn, grow, and thrive are the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Hohokam, the Tohono O’odham and the Pascua Yaqui peoples who have been enriching this land for thousands of years.  We are grateful to learn from the lifeways these Indigenous peoples have developed through the labor of their hearts, hands, and minds over the centuries.  We acknowledge the historical injustices perpetrated on Indigenous people, that colonialism is still an ongoing process, and we strive to be mindful of our own participation.  – Land Acknowledgement Adopted in 2020 by the Tucson Waldorf School’s DEI Committee

When stepping onto our campus, it is easy to notice the beauty that is beneath our feet and all around us.  It also feels good knowing that our Tucson Waldorf Community is the steward of the land of our school.  We volunteer to pull weeds, help in the garden, build structures, care for the chickens and worms, make safe, and beautify our place.  We raise funds to improve and take care of our place.  This is where our children, their teachers and guides learn, teach and grow.  It is so easy to love it here. 

 Millenia ago, children of the Hohokam, the Pascua Yaqui, and the Tohono O’odham learned, played, and grew here, too, along with their beloved adults. Our school’s Land Acknowledgment is an offer of recognition for the displacement and diminished sovereignty of the tribes whose ancestral lands we occupy.  It is an offer of gratitude to honor their historical and ongoing stewardship of this land. Our land acknowledgement is also a reminder that we must continue to strive to do better in strengthening our relationships with our local Indigenous communities, to uplift and include them in our school’s life. 

A land acknowledgement is a first step, a starting point.  The DEI Committee strives to learn more about how we can put our acknowledgment into action by supporting Indigenous communities with our resources and gifts. We invite you to participate in this with us. 

To learn more about land acknowledgements, the Native Governance Center offers a well-regarded tutorial A Guide To Indigenous Land Acknowledgment.  If you feel ready to take action and would like to understand how to move beyond words, the Native Governance Center also offers a Beyond Land Acknowledgement guide.

A great way to find out about your own relationship to the land you walk upon each day is to write a personal land acknowledgement and practice saying it to yourself or with your family.  An example of how a land acknowledgment can bring awareness and build community is the action taken this past February by the Pima County Board of Supervisors.  As suggested by Supervisor Adelita Grijalva, the board voted to adopt a land acknowledgement statement that is now read at each Board Meeting. To participate in efforts of increasing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at our school, check out current events on our school calendar, join the DEI Study Group and Forum on Parent Square or email the DEI Committee at [email protected]

With Gratitude From the DEI Committee

 On Behalf of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, we offer gratitude to Camille Ramos, Charles Swanson, Cyd Poncé, David Sussman, Elizabeth Falcón, Emma Maruska, Gemma Marquino Moreno, Jade Hines, Jennifer O’Brien, Jennifer Rosenstein, Judy Taylor, Katrinka Heyman, Mareka Thomson, Maria Cheek, Marla Domino, Michelle Blazewicz, Naomi McCoy, Nicole Williams, Olga Ryan, Peter Illetschko, Rachel Quinn, Rebecca Briamonte, Sariya Jarasviroj Brown, Tessa Swanson and All of You who are walking beside us in the behind the scenes work on behalf of increasing a sense of Belonging at Tucson Waldorf School. A very special thanks to Emma Maruska for being an engine and Rachel Quinn for lending expertise to our land acknowledgement video. Rachel, your willingness to jump in and help is noticed and appreciated.