The Latest in “Land Acknowledgments”

We reported here early last month about University of Washington Prof. Stuart Reges upending UW’s virtue-signaling “land acknowledgement” that is all the rage in academia right now. Today Inside Higher Ed picks up the story, with an interesting wrinkle. As argued here, if “land acknowledgements” are meant literally, they are the height of liberal hypocrisy, since “stolen land” by definition should either be returned to its rightful owner, or compensation should be paid. Not one university proudly proclaiming land acknowledgments is proposing to do this, nor will they ever.

It seems some native Americans are having second thoughts about this virtue-signaling, as the Inside Higher Ed story relates:

Last fall, three anthropologists—two of whom are Native American—wrote a piece about land acknowledgments in The Conversation, arguing that “many contemporary land acknowledgments unintentionally communicate false ideas about the history of dispossession and the current realities of American Indians and Alaska Natives.”

They noted at the time that the Association of Indigenous Anthropologists had requested that the American Anthropological Association pause the practice of land acknowledgments and welcoming rituals in which Indigenous people offered prayers or blessings to open events.

“It felt like their blessing ceremonies were just playing on stereotypes,” said Michael Lambert, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who co-authored the opinion piece in The Conversation and is an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

The American Anthropological Association, he noted, took heed—it formally paused the practice and created a task force to determine how to approach the issue going forward. . .

Luhui Whitebear, a professor at Oregon State University; director for the university’s Kaku-Ixt Mana Ina Haws, a Native and Indigenous center; and an enrolled member of the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation, said that she occasionally sees problematic land acknowledgments, often when colleges are more focused on checking a box rather than making a difference.

Checking boxes is the chief day-to-day function of the whole diversity racket.

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