Land Acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way of showing respect and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture and toward inviting and honoring the truth. It is usually done with a recitation of text of the particular geographical area or institution’s history and continued involvement with Indigenous people. Acknowledgment by itself is a small gesture. It becomes meaningful when coupled with an authentic relationship and informed action. But this beginning can be an opening to greater public consciousness of Native sovereignty and cultural rights, a step toward equitable relationship and reconciliation.
The Student Assembly of Hamilton College recognizes our collective responsibility to acknowledge our colonial history. Our campus is located on the traditional lands of the Oneida Nation. We express gratitude for the relationship between Chief Shenandoah (Oskanondonha, Wolf Clan) and Samuel Kirkland, who together founded the Hamilton-Oneida Academy in 1793 to educate Indigenous and settler youth together. That institution became Hamilton College. Today, the Hamilton College community commits itself to developing and maintaining a relationship with the Oneida Nation, and to ensuring that the perspectives and cultures of Indigenous people are honored and embraced. While the aforementioned words are not a reconciliation, they are a move in the direction of improving relations and a call to honor the commitment made two centuries ago to Chief Shenandoah.
The Student Assembly would like to credit the Shenandoah-Kirkland Initiative (SKI) for writing this land acknowledgment. We also hope to institutionalize land acknowledgements in the Constitution.