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MSU Student Gov to Read ‘Land Acknowledgement’ at Meetings, Hopes to Implement at Orientation

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

Author: Sergei Kelley

With the passing of a resolution on March 19, 2020, MSU’s student government meetings will begin with the reading of a 'Land Acknowledgement' statement.

The statement describes MSU as an occupier, and cites “contemporary” land ownership by sovereign native tribes. It describes both forced removal and the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw. At the meeting, there were calls for a placard to be erected and students to recite the statement at fall orientation.

Passed with a vote of 27-1-4 (Yes/No/Abstention) by the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU), the resolution, hopes to recognize how “students, faculty, and staff have benefited from indigenous land.”

[RELATED STORY: ANALYSIS: MSU's Misguided "Native Sovereignty" Over University Lands]

A few student government representatives proposed a placard of the statement erected either on the wall or at their offices. Representatives showed support for the placard, but in addition to the verbal statement.

Miracle Chatman, ASMSU’s Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion officer said, “There is no real way to know that everyone will see that physical thing... but if we say that at every meeting...especially if you are part of ASMSU you will be aware and will be able to listen to it.”

“It would be very good for everyone in the room to acknowledge the land we’re on,” she continued.

“It won’t kill anybody” to hear the verbal statement, said Jacob Turner, the representative for MSU’s North American Indigenous Student Organization. He seconded the bill with Aubrey Hanes, a representative for the College of Natural Sciences. Both were inspired by the Association of Big Ten Students’ recent resolution to acknowledge the “sacred land” which universities occupy.

[RELATED STORY: FIRE Blasts MSU Student Gov for Attempted First Amendment Violations]

Representative Hanes mentioned working with ASMSU’s Vice President of Governmental Affairs Maysa Sitar, to implement the recitation of a land acknowledgment at fall orientation. MSU does have an official land acknowledgment, which is posted in some campus buildings.

When sharing the resolution, representative Hanes was quickly rebuked after saying, “we were given the opportunity to be on it [university land].” Interrupting immediately, a representative said, “no one [of us] was given the opportunity to be on it.”

The student government will start the the first General Assembly meeting of a session with an extended statement, and below, the shortened version before each meeting thereafter:

“Michigan State University occupies the ancestral, traditional and contemporary lands of the Anishinaabeg – Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi peoples. The university resides on land ceded in the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw.”

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