Beyond Land Acknowledgements: Real Collaboration with Tribes and Tribal Museums

  • Saturday, October 8, 2022
  • 9:00 am - 10:15 am


Sven Haakanson, Curator of North American Anthropology, Burke Museum
Rebecca Dobkins, Faculty Curator, Hallie Ford Museum of Art


Elizabeth Woody, Executive Director, The Museum at Warm Springs


  • Indigenous

Tribal land acknowledgements are rapidly growing in popularity among institutions and organizations, taking the form of opening statements in meetings and conferences, signage, or website messages. One might ask why land acknowledgements are being made in a growing number of settings, including the museum. Acknowledgement is a simple, powerful way of showing respect and is intended as a step toward correcting the practices that erase or freeze Indigenous people’s history and culture while inviting and honoring the truth. However, the land acknowledgement is also at risk of ending where it began, perhaps well-conceived and received, but merely a symbolic gesture with little to no follow through of engagement and real change. While land acknowledgements are well meaning, they are no substitute for substantive and ongoing Tribal relationships and understandings of tribal land claims.