Land Acknowledgment Meeting Lays Out Guidelines For Future Goals

Zack Miller | The PhoenixA committee of 80 Loyola community members are working to acknowledge Indigenous land on campus.

Members of the Loyola community working to acknowledge Indigenous land began listing ideas and goals for how to implement Loyola’s Land Acknowledgement statement during a Jan. 27 meeting, including replacing art around campus, hosting events and including more Indigenous voices on the committee. 

The Land Acknowledge Statement — which formally acknowledges Indigenous land the university is built on — came in an email Oct. 7, The Phoenix reported.

The email “acknowledges its location on the ancestral homelands The Loyola University Chicago community acknowledges its location on the ancestral homelands of the Council of the Three Fires (the Ojibwa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi tribes) and a place of trade with other tribes, including the Ho-Chunk, Miami, Menominee, Sauk, and Meskwaki,” The Phoenix reported.

The committee of 80 people, led by Michael Schuck, professor in the Department of Theology and the School of Environmental Sustainability, set out six main goals they want to accomplish. 

The goals include contacting Native American members in the Loyola community, the use of the Land Acknowledgement Statement, putting up Land Acknowledgement Statement plaques and artwork around campus, a Native American Health Event in May, Indigenous Peoples Day recognition, and negotiations with LUC libraries.

For the last couple of years, Schuck has been leading this committee with the Lakota community in mind — a Native American group he has been connected with for most of his life. His goal with the committee is to partner with Indigenous communities and bring awareness and justice to them, he said. 

The meeting discussed the possibility of checking student data to find Native American voices to join the committee because it was noted there aren’t any current faculty or students who identify as Indigenous on the task force, but Schuck said the group works with a man from the Lakota tribe who helps connect with Native American students on campus, according to Schuck. 

“I am comfortable being the leader and doing this as an ally now so I can hand it over to a native person one day,” Shuck said. 

Associate Professor of Psychology and Associate Provost for Academic Programs and Planning Robyn Mallett brought up going through student records to find people who identify as Native American to invite them to join the committee. She said she thought it would be useful to consider students because they are the “heart of our community,” she said in an email. 

The committee wants to put up plaques and artwork around campus in order to draw attention to the Land Acknowledgement Statement, Schuck said. Tuchman said in the meeting the group wants to make more of a visual statement around campus and are working with Loyola’s facilities department to place plaques around campus as well as a design consultant firm to create the plaques.

“We want to put the plaques and artwork in places with a lot of foot traffic,” Tuchman said. “We are thinking of putting them in Damen Student Center, Donovan Reading Center and maybe in the President of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s office.”

A subset of the committee is also looking into the question of taking down a mural in the Donovan Reading Room in the Cudahy Library because of the colonial history behind the artwork, Tuchman said.

Dean of the School of Environmental Sustainability Nancy Tuchman said the statement itself is derived from a number of different reports put out by different parts of the university. Student Government, the Center for Engaged Learning, the Facility Center for Ignatian Pedagogy and the Classical Studies Department all have put out statements, according to Tuchman. 

“This task force took all of the Land Acknowledgment Statements and brought them into one university statement,” Tuchman said.

The task force plans on connecting with the Loyola community as they progress. According to Schuck, they plan on having a public reading of the Land Acknowledgment statement at all commencement and student convocations. 

“We want to encourage faculty to put an abbreviated version of the statement in course syllabi,” Schuck said in an interview. “ We are also having an event on Indigenous Peoples’ Day (Oct. 10). Most of these will need some seed money from the university. We haven’t moved into that step yet of requesting funding.” 

The committee is still in the initial stages of planning for the Native American Health event, according to Schuck. The purpose of this event will be to raise awareness of the health struggles of the Native American people and communities of urban Indigenous people throughout Chicago.

In Loyola’s libraries, the Dean of Libraries and her staff are linking Loyola to a platform known as Mukurtua, according to Schuck. Digital Services Librarian Margaret Heller said Mukurtu is designed to share materials created by Indigenous communities.

“This platform allows LUC to collaborate with Native American communities by helping them manage, share, and exchange their digital heritage in culturally relevant and ethically-minded ways,” Schuck said. 

Negotiations are happening between the university’s libraries and the Lakota People’s Law Project so that Loyola can put their archive of Lakota community history and advocacy on the Mukurtu platform, according to Schuck.

Heller, who is assisting with these negotiations, said everything is currently in the early pilot stages, but they eventually hope to have a digital collections portal that Loyola will host and students can help with that shows the work of organizations like the Lakota People’s Law Project.

“We are looking for ways to extend our digital collections to work with Loyola students and external partners to highlight native and indigenous communities,” Heller said. 

The University Libraries will be working on additional programming related to Native American issues later this year, according to Heller. 

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