Council should consider Indigenous acknowledgments before meetings | Guest View

By Diana White | May 01, 2019
Diana White

I am an enrolled member of the Prairie Band Potowatomi Tribe, and my ancestors are from the Cherokee Nation.

I respectfully ask the Edmonds City Council to consider adding a land acknowledgment statement of indigenous peoples to council meetings and other significant public gatherings in the city.

Land acknowledgement statements are promoted and encouraged by the federal government’s Department of Arts and Culture. These statements are a simple and powerful way to honor a culture of people who existed on these lands for thousands of years before any cities, counties, or states existed.

The indigenous peoples of the specific region are recognized, acknowledged and honored. These statements will help bridge the cultural divide many Indigenous people feel after being forcibly removed from their homelands with attempts to wipe out a whole culture of people.

Why should we do this?

With Edmonds being the first Creative District in the state, I couldn’t think of a better way to honor the culture of the original inhabitants of this land, the Coast Salish.

Edmonds is also a city that has embraced Indigenous Peoples Day in its entirety. This statement is an action item that shows that we can make policy level decisions and follow them up with actionable events.

The Tulalip Tribes, Edmonds School Board, and Edmonds Center for the Arts are just a few of the local organizations opening meetings and events with land acknowledgment statements.

Here is a sample of how this would sound:

“I would like to open this event with a land acknowledgment that we are on the traditional homelands to the Coast Salish Tribes.”

You could end it at that, or add additional information. For example, the ECA statement includes the passage, “We are committed to working with local tribes to acknowledge their land and are honored to do so today.”

The school board statement includes, “Tribes granted the use of the land to the U.S. via the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855 while retaining their rights to the land.”

My personal favorite is this: “We are on the traditional homelands to the Coast Salish Tribes. We pay our respects to elders past and present.”

As you can see, the statement is simple, powerful, doesn’t cost anything, and goes a long way towards restoring cultural democracy of the Indigenous peoples who have gone before us.

I encourage councilmembers to consider adding this statement to council meetings, public gatherings and other relevant events in our city.

Migwetch.

Thank you.

Diana White is a candidate for Edmonds City Council.

 

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