aerial view of Wasatch Front

Indigenous Land Acknowledgement

In recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day on Oct. 12 and Native American Heritage Month in November, the University of Utah is formally launching its Indigenous Land Acknowledgement.

As many colleges and departments across campus began crafting their own land acknowledgements on websites and during events, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dan Reed, chartered a committee to develop a statement that could be adopted by all at the U. For about a year, this committee engaged in meaningful conversations around what should be included in a university-wide Indigenous Land Acknowledgement.

“As the flagship institution of higher education in Utah, we certainly have a role to play in honoring and recognizing the many contributions of Indigenous peoples’ in our state,” said Mary Ann Villarreal, vice president for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and co-chair of the Native American Land Use Committee. “We hope this statement will be shared and recited often as a reminder of our gratitude and commitment to serving and partnering with Native Nations.”

The U operates on the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Shoshone, Paiute, Goshute and Ute Tribes, and Utah is home to eight distinct tribal nations.

“Our land acknowledgement is an important gesture of recognition and respect to the Indigenous peoples’ of Utah,” said Elizabeth Kronk Warner, dean of the S.J. Quinney College of Law and co-chair of the committee. “We are grateful to be able to gather on this land and for the valuable contributions of our Native students, staff and faculty to the living, working, and learning environment at the U.”

Committee members, many of whom are tribal members, created a long and short version of the land acknowledgement so it may be posted, distributed and recited by campus partners as appropriate.

Indigenous Land Acknowledgement

September 2020

Long version:

The University of Utah has both historical and contemporary relationships with Indigenous peoples. Given that the Salt Lake Valley has always been a gathering place for Indigenous peoples, we acknowledge that this land, which is named for the Ute Tribe, is the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Shoshone, Paiute, Goshute, and Ute Tribes and is a crossroad for Indigenous peoples. The University of Utah recognizes the enduring relationships between many Indigenous peoples and their traditional homelands. We are grateful for the territory upon which we gather today; we respect Utah’s Indigenous peoples, the original stewards of this land; and we value the sovereign relationships that exist between tribal governments, state governments, and the federal government. Today, approximately 60,000 American Indian and Alaska Native peoples live in Utah. As a state institution, the University of Utah is committed to serving Native communities throughout Utah in partnership with Native Nations and our Urban Indian communities through research, education, and community outreach activities.

Short version:

We acknowledge that this land, which is named for the Ute Tribe, is the traditional and ancestral homeland of the Shoshone, Paiute, Goshute, and Ute Tribes. The University of Utah recognizes and respects the enduring relationship that exists between many Indigenous peoples and their traditional homelands. We respect the sovereign relationship between tribes, states, and the federal government, and we affirm the University of Utah’s commitment to a partnership with Native Nations and Urban Indian communities through research, education, and community outreach activities.

Committee Members:

Elizabeth Kronk Warner, co-chair, dean of the S.J. Quinney College of Law (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians)
Mary Ann Villareal, co-chair, vice president for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Adam Dell, assistant professor, Department of Pediatrics
Alberta Comer, dean of libraries
Alice Whitacre, associate general counsel, Office of General Counsel
Ashley Cordes, assistant professor of Indigenous communication (Coquille)
Becky Menlove, former director for the visitor experience, Natural History Museum of Utah
Charles Sepulveda, assistant professor, Ethnic Studies (Tongva and Acjachemen)
Chris Nelson, communications director, University Marketing & Communications
Dena Ned, associate professor, College of Social Work (Chickasaw Nation)
Greg Smoak, director, America West Center and associate professor of history
Morgan Aguilar, communications specialist, University Marketing & Communications
Sarah Projansky, associate vice president for faculty, Academic Affairs
Shayma Salih, student, Hinckley Institute of Politics

Additional resources:
American Indian Resource Center
Utah Division of Indian Affairs