In September, about 50 people gathered in Everett, Washington, to break ground for a new school building. Everett sits on the homeland of the Tulalip Tribes. The school board president acknowledged this. Members of the tribes then did a land blessing. “It was a very touching moment for us,” Chelsea Craig told TIME for Kids. She’s a Tulalip tribal member.
A growing number of schools and other groups are doing land acknowledgments. Events and gatherings begin with them. A land acknowledgment is a statement. It is meant to honor the Indigenous people who have traditionally lived in a certain area.
“It is part of our commitment to our community, to acknowledge the people who came before us,” Gerry Ebalaroza-Tunnell says. She’s director of equity for the Mukilteo School District.
Land acknowledgment is becoming more common in the United States. Several U.S. cities have land acknowledgment statements. These include Tempe, Arizona; Eden Prairie, Minnesota; and Denver, Colorado.
Land acknowledgment has also become part of popular culture. In Illinois, the Chicago Blackhawks ice-hockey team does a land acknowledgment before home games. In New York City, a land acknowledgment was done at the 2020 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Brienne Colston is with the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, or USDAC. (The group is not part of the U.S. government.) “Land acknowledgment is meant to uplift a history that’s been ignored,” Colston says.
In 1855, the Tulalip Tribes’ ancestors gave up much of their land to the U.S. government. They moved to a reservation. This happened to other tribes, too. “For me, it’s about making the invisible visible,” Craig says of land acknowledgment.
At the event in September, Tulalip tribal members shared a traditional song. “When we began to sing, we could literally feel our ancestors with us,” Craig says. “It was very healing.”
The story "On This Land"—about honoring Native land—appears in this week's issue of TIME for Kids. Nathan Whittinghill attends middle school in the Mukilteo School District, in Washington State. Here, he writes about what land acknowledgement means to him and…
For most kids, a typical school day includes lessons in math, science, and English language arts. But for Callista Grant, 11, a typical day might also include instruction in American Indian drumming and dancing. She studies the Ojibwe (oh-jib-way) and Lakota languages,…