We reside on the unceded Indigenous land of the Dkhw Duw’Absh (Duwamish Tribe): realrentduwamish.org
Land Acknowledgments: a step toward honoring the Indigenous Peoples and their land
How we honor and acknowledge the people and the land where we reside is a vital first step toward social justice.
Land/territory acknowledgments have existed for hundreds of years. This powerful practice was developed by Indigenous communities across the world who, through these acknowledgments, have and continue to honor the land, people, and all of its past, present, and future living beings to recognize its reciprocal relationship and connection to each other.
The Dkhw Duw’Absh (Duwamish people) are the First People of present-day Seattle and King County, and the original stewards of the land. The U.S. government stole their land 165 years ago, which resulted in their forced displacement. Where they once inhabited 50 villages in the Puget Sound area, they now only own less than an acre of land and have been unfairly stripped of their federal recognition. It is also important to note that the City of Seattle took its name from the leader of the Dkhw Duw’Absh (Duwamish people): Seathl (Chief Seattle).
Seattle Shapers began our learning journey to honor the Dkhw Duw’Absh (Duwamish people) in 2020. Our practice, guided by the wisdom of Indigenous groups across the world, emerged from community discussion and reflections on how we could do better to honor the people and the land where we reside. It was important for our hub to recognize the role that our actions and inactions play in creating the just reality we seek. As Seathl (Chief Seattle) said: “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
Understanding our role as a thread within an ecosystem of change and deep commitment to honor the Dkhw Duw’Absh (Duwamish people), we have taken the following steps (in the order that they have emerged for our hub). What began with land acknowledgements twice a month has culminated in securing a crucial $900,000 grant to repatriate land to the Dkhw Duw’Absh (Duwamish people).
- Committing to land acknowledgements — Since August 2020, we have consistently led land acknowledgements at our biweekly meetings to highlight different aspects of Indigenous history, language, culture, and art. We rotate this responsibility among our hub members, allowing individuals to pursue a topic of their choosing to share their learning and interest with the rest of the hub. We have covered topics ranging from Thanksgiving to Snoqualmie Falls and re-Indigenizing the land (see examples below).
- Learning and connecting with the Indigenous community — Several members of our hub joined an ecotour led by the Dkhw Duw’Absh (Duwamish people) in September 2020 to learn more about the tribe and build a connection with the Dkhw Duw’Absh (link below). Shortly after the tour, we learned about efforts by the Shared Spaces Foundation to restore and repatriate land to the Dkhw Duw’Absh (Duwamish people) with the tribe’s blessing. Recognizing we needed to go beyond land acknowledgements, we connected with the Shared Spaces Foundation to see how our hub could support their work.
- Supporting Indigenous organizing efforts — In the past year, we have participated in multiple community events to amplify Shared Spaces’ efforts to raise awareness about their work and the Indigenous land justice movement generally. We hosted a panel of our own as part of the Davos Lab Dialogues, and participated in an event hosted by the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Washington, Public Matters (links below). Our most impactful support has been giving direct support to land acquisition efforts. While helping Shared Spaces Foundation look for and apply for grants, we came across a significant pool of funding to prevent displacement in the City of Seattle. We are pleased to share that Shared Spaces was recently awarded $900,000 of these funds — a landmark milestone in their fundraising efforts (link below).
We want to invite you to join our efforts to honor the Dkhw Duw’Absh (Duwamish people).
- Click here to support the efforts to repatriate the land back to the Duwamish people and here to learn more
- If you reside in the Seattle/Puget Sound region, pay rent to the First People of this land, the Dkhw Duw’Absh (Duwamish people)
- Lift up stories of Indigenous organizing and sovereignty
- Share the history of the First Peoples of the region you live in with your community
We honor and are deeply grateful to the Dkhw Duw’Absh (Duwamish people) and all of the First People and their land. This post is not seeking to show a perfect way, rather share our continuous journey to repair the harm, as we believe we cannot move forward until we heal and learn from the past.
“”We are all here to serve each other. At some point we have to understand that we do not need to carry a story that is unbearable. We can observe the story, which is mental; feel the story, which is physical; let the story go, which is emotional; then forgive the story, which is spiritual, after which we use the materials of it to build a house of knowledge.” — Joy Harjo, member of the Mvskoke Nation and belongs to Oce Vpofv (Hickory Ground), and the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States
- Examples of Seattle Shaper land acknowledgements: Thanksgiving- linked here, Snoqualmie Falls -linked here, and re-Indigenizing the land — linked here
- Duwamish tribe ecotours, linked here
- Davos Lab Dialogues: Rooting our Economies in Community and Collective Care
- Public Matters 2021 event recap
- Shared Spaces foundation announces receipt of $900,000 SIF grant