Land Acknowledgement for a Globally Distributed Organization

Overwhelmingly much of the feedback on this year’s OEGlobal 2023 Conference was an appreciation for the conference vision and themes of Indigenous ways of knowing. Like many of you, this has stayed with me.

It’s been noticeable how many place-based educational institutions, especially here in Turtle Island / North America but increasingly more in the US, Australia, New Zealand have developed and made public their land acknowledgements and commitments to reconciliation.

Native Land Digital map zoomed out over the Atlantic Ocean, showing traditional names for locations in South America, the east edge of North America, and parts of eastern Africa

I could list many, but take for example BCcampus, where land acknowledgments are on every web page, I see it in footers of emails from colleagues, it is part of their online webinars, but more importantly, reflected in their programs and projects. And they are an organization with multiple physical locations plus staff who are remotely based.

So the question has been bubbling in my mind for a while, what steps might a globally distributed organization… say mine, Open Education Global, develop and stand behind as a land/people acknowledgement?

Our “location” where the organization is registered, is actually a post office box in Concord, Massachusetts. This is not really where we located. From Native Land Digital I find our mailing address is on the ancestral lands of the Nipmuc, Agawam, Massa-adchu-es-et, and Pawtucket people.

Creating such a statement of course would need to be carried out by the organization and board of directors, but my first question was to seek other distributed organizations are doing this.

First I found a very helpful example as a Global Indigenous Peoples Acknowledgement from Fielding Graduate University, located in California, but operates as a globally distributed organization.

Speaking of global, I wondered what UNESCO publishes. I did not find anything specific, but since they have so many programs addressing Indigenous peoples, you will find useful statements in say, the UNESCO policy on engaging with indigenous peoples:

Marginalized economically, socially and politically, indigenous peoples are also often pushed to the margins of our consciousness. whether in the form of explicit racism or largely unconscious prejudices that associate indigenous peoples with the past rather than the present, misrepresentations persist. indigenous peoples are not the “roots” of humanity, they are part of the structural core, like all of our contemporaries. the long history of their social representations and cultural practices should not negate their right to a fair and sustainable present. as peoples of this century, indigenous peoples should not be confined to a lesser condition of humanity. UNESCO is fully committed to working for this justice.

And then I found when visiting the web site for the relevant Local Contexts organization, this acknowledgment:

As an organization that transcends geographic and national boundaries, Local Contexts acknowledges that all of the lands and waters we occupy are Indigenous Homelands. We recognize the ongoing significance of these lands and waters for Indigenous Peoples in the past, present, and future.

Local Contexts is committed to Indigenous sovereignty and ethical data governance; we believe that naming and addressing the violence of settler-colonialism and its ongoing effects is central to the work that we do. The legacy of settler-colonialism has manifested in the structural exclusion and erasure of Indigenous people within institutions that steward collections of Indigenous heritage and data. The (mis)information or absence of information within these institutions and their systems continues to pose enduring challenges that adversely affect Indigenous communities.

We have responsibilities and obligations to support Indigenous peoples, communities, and organizations. In our efforts to overcome the legacies of settler-colonialism, Local Contexts was developed to create effective and recognized pathways for implementing and maintaining Indigenous data rights and facilitate ethical relationships and enable collaboration with stewards of Indigenous collections.

We ask you to acknowledge these truths and join us in our commitment to acting as respectful guests within the homelands in which we live and work.

That makes a clear statement of values and commitment that works any/everywhere, right?

This is but one step, the acts we take are also ones as individuals. All of us operate on physical lands which have stories going long back before what we know as the world. We can not only acknowledge, but respect and honor in the way we operate from these places.

I’m curious to know of more examples of land acknowledgements for distributed organizations. This is really my own question, but one I think we should be discussing.

That means… click that reply button! Thank you.


Great subject, @cogdog! Here is the Land Acknowledgement that I, on behalf of the Board of Directors, read at the OpenEd23 Conference. While it is considered a global event, the conference is based in the United States, and so this L.A. does focus on North America, which is not quite what you asked for. But maybe it will be helpful.

The Open Education Conference Board of Directors recognizes that our mission to advance open access is inherently linked to the righteous pursuit of decolonization led by peoples subjected to ongoing settler colonialism. Withholding access to knowledge is one extension of ongoing theft of land and genocide rooted in white supremacist colonialism.

We specifically acknowledge the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island, including the lands known to settlers as the United States of America and Canada, where this conference has previously convened in person and where many participants join from today. We uplift the courageous resistance of Turtle Island’s indigenous people who show us everyday what it looks like to choose life in the face of colonial violence, to choose unapologetic existence in the face of erasure, and liberation in the face of suppression.

We call on those in our community who are settled on these particular lands to follow the lead of Indigenous people in reimagining ways of being that honor our collective humanity.

For tangible starting points, please consider the following:

*Learn more about the depth, breadth, and complexity of Indigenous history on the land by visiting Native Land (, an app that maps Indigenous lands in a way that changes, challenges, and improves the way people see history and the present day.

*If you are in Canada, learn more about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and LGBTQ2S+ People from the National Association of Friendship Centres Policy — The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC)

*If you are in the United States, learn more about Stop Cop City and the movement to defend the land of the Weelaunee Forest in Atlanta:

Hey Alan,

This conversation has inspired me to look to the land I am currently visiting as I have moved /worked across different geographic locations in Canada as an immigrant to my country.

When doing my dissertation research, and presenting, I asked an elder how would I acknowledge the land when I am “in the cloud” doing online webinars or completing online projects with students and knowledge keepers contributing online.

They suggested that while it is always respectful to acknowledge the land in which you are currently “on” it is also important to share why how you came to be in this place. To reflect upon and make connections to the land from which you came.

In Alaska, for example, an elder encouraged me to talk about which geographic area connects with me the most - eg mountains, water, prairies etc (for me it was mountains) and think about which of my ancestors would have also likely had the opportunity to appreciate similar geographic areas. I was able to trace back my colonial ancestry realizing that they were all connected to mountains in some way. Then we were able to talk about the importance of mountains to our ways of living (and my case learning).

So I think I have learned that it is important to acknowledge the land on which you are visiting and it is also important to connect why the land is important to you and your ancestors to be appreciative and grateful for what we have.

I guess I am suggesting to always consider policies/rules to guide us as a starting place (and question who made them or why). I have been encouraged to build relationships with the Indigenous peoples on the lands that I am learning about - to learn with and from them .

Verena :slight_smile:

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Thanks Judith, this is indeed helpful, and shows both how its possible to not only publish as a demonstration of the organization’s values. I have to say there was so much I enjoyed and respected about the OpenEd23 conference, ideas I shall borrow and also contribute back to.

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This is so valuable, Verena, thanks for this insight. As I am seeing the work is important both from an organizational statement, but also what is our own personal path.

I find this so interesting and am going to dwell on it. This was an effort I tried to get going here during the OEGlobal 23 conference (but likely got lost in the many places people were attending to) where we asked people to share what the land where they are from means to them. And then a followup, to ask what they knew of the ancestral people also made that place home

That was interesting as I have no recollection of even being taught anything about the Eastern US location I grew up in, and I went down my usual internet exploration holes of discovery but also connected to story of my neighborhood that I wish now I had explored more.

Oh, I did come across a UBC resource on Video Resources for Virtual Land Acknowledgements

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What a beautiful, thoughtful and important post. Your distributed organization model makes this a unique challenge. I love the examples you found. Thank you for sharing.

At NorQuest, we have developed and are working under the guidance of the importance of personalizing land acknowledgements. This might include what is my relation to the land; what land is my ancestral family from; and what makes the land important to me? We also discuss what is my commitment to action? And other important questions. I love the globally distributed acknowledgement you found, and if some consider adding a personal piece, I think you have something very meaningful to your context and to you. The personalization is meant to have a deeper reflection, acknowledgement of the wrongs, and commitment going forward. This is a work in progress, but I share mine as an example.

As a settler on Amiskwaciwâskahikan, known to Settlers and guests as Edmonton, homeland to Treaty 6 Territory and the Metis Nation of Alberta, I acknowledge my uninvited presence, and give gratitude and respect to the indigenous Peoples and this land, and all its beauty.

Being connected to the land, and the gifts it provides, has been a grounding part of the relationship I have with my son. Our time together on mountain hikes, being on the water, and sky watching are special moments I am grateful for.

In the spirit of reconciliation, to make right relations and correct the damages, I affirm my commitment and learnings of Wahkôhtowin, and go forward with this guiding teaching in how I relate to the Indigenous peoples; how I connect to this land; and how I integrate my new knowledge and perspectives in the work I do for the learners and communities we serve.

Feedback is welcomed!

Patti, NorQuest College

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I work at Flinders University in Australia and we have campuses situated on the lands of numerous Indigenous nations. The university’s official acknowledgement lists all the Indigenous nations by name. But in day to day use, (before a meeting etc), we generally say we acknowledge all the traditional owners of the lands the university is situated on, but we don’t say each name. We then do a specific acknowledgement of the nation whose land we are physically located on.

Thanks Tim, it’s helpful to hear of this approach at Flinders University. As we have heard from others above, an element that is key is a person’s own connection to land and their path/influences integrated to a more general organizational acknowledgement.