Stanford launches land acknowledgment website honoring relationships with Native peoples
A new website with the university’s official land acknowledgment encourages its use at events and celebrates ties to the Muwekma Ohlone and other Native communities.
The relationship between the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe and Stanford, whose campus is located within the Tribe’s ancestral territory, is recognized at many campus gatherings. Participants pause to acknowledge the history of the land and the significance of Native peoples to the university community with a statement.
Go to the web site to view the video.
As the United States celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Oct. 11, Stanford is launching a website that provides the university’s first official such land acknowledgment.
Developed in collaboration with the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, the website offers guidance for members of the Stanford community wishing to incorporate this show of respect into their activities. Typically, it is included in event programs or recited live or on video during the welcome or opening remarks.
“The land acknowledgment is an act of honoring the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe’s ancestral stewardship of lands on which Stanford gathers,” said Karen Biestman, director of Stanford’s Native American Cultural Center. “It also marks the university’s commitment to respectful relations and actions involving Indigenous peoples, both today and in the future.”
Leland Stanford purchased land in the Bay Area from farmers in the 1870s and 1880s. When he and his wife, Jane, founded a university to honor their late son, Leland Jr., their Palo Alto Stock Farm became its campus.
Stanford lands are home to 65 prehistoric Native American sites, some known to be as much as 5,000 years old. Use of land acknowledgments, honoring that history during campus events and in other settings, has been growing in recent years, but this is the university’s first official version. It reads:
“Stanford sits on the ancestral land of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. This land was and continues to be of great importance to the Ohlone people. Consistent with our values of community and inclusion, we have a responsibility to acknowledge, honor, and make visible the University’s relationship to Native peoples.”
A video of the acknowledgment – spoken by Native students Jade Araujo, ’24, Tlingit, Athabascan, and Aquinnah Wampanoag, and Ryan Duncan, ’24, Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations of Oklahoma – can be downloaded and used by members of the Stanford community.
The website also includes information and links to campus partners, events and activities that highlight Stanford’s relationship to Native communities and their contributions to the university. These include the Native American Cultural Center, Native American Studies, Stanford American Indian Organization events, community-led archaeology, historic interpretation and a developing Native plant garden.
Stanford’s first Native American student matriculated in 1894 and graduated in 1898, and today more than 400 undergraduate and graduate students, who represent more than 50 tribes, study at the university. The Muwekma-Tah-Ruk Native American Theme House is named for the Muwekma Ohlone, and in 2019 Tribe members participated in the ceremony dedicating Jane Stanford Way, which was renamed along with two campus buildings that previously honored Father Junipero Serra.
Stanford’s Native American Cultural Center has additional programming and details about educational opportunities and collaboration with Native groups.