Robbinsdale Area Schools

District Achievement and Integration, American Indian Education teams explore land acknowledgements

The Robbinsdale Area Schools American Indian Education (AIE) and Achievement and Integration teams are ensuring that through their work they educate others and empower Indigenous voices and promote inclusion. One of the ways they are accomplishing this is through land acknowledgements.

According to AIE Advisor Johnny Crow, land acknowledgements are official statements by non-indigenous organizations that recognize Indigenous peoples as traditional stewards of the land, such as the Dakota Oyate lands the district presently occupies.

“Ultimately, our students and families that we serve – it’s important for them to acknowledge this history,” he said. “It helps bring awareness to the history of Indigenous people, and that is very inclusive.”

Land acknowledgements are pretty new, Crow said, but a number of neighboring school districts have adopted formal acknowledgements, including the Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and St. Louis Park school districts.

Recently Crow, with AIE program coordinator Athena Cloud,  presented the idea of land acknowledgements to the district Achievement and Integration team. That was an important first step to moving the district toward formally adopting a land acknowledgement of its own, according to Tamuriel Grace, director of the district’s Achievement and Integration department.

“It’s an important step to educate ourselves about land acknowledgements, what they mean and what they don’t,” she said. “This isn’t something that is meant to induce guilt or shame.”

“Indigenous people were stewards of the land long before we got here. There’s a deep history there, and it’s powerful to acknowledge that,” Grace said.

The AIE team will begin working on language for the Robbinsdale Area Schools land acknowledgement, and will make recommendations about the scope of the statement. That can mean reading the acknowledgement before public meetings, or dedicating a framed plaque in the School Board chambers, Grace said.

“It’s an acknowledgement of the past and the present for Indigenous people,” Crow said. “That can be quite valuable to the community as a whole.”

Learn more about the American Indian Education department on the district’s website. To learn more about land acknowledgements, check out this short video.

Related News

Spring Powwow 5

On April 23, the district co-hosted its first traditional powwow in years at Armstrong High School, attracting more than 300 people. The celebration featured singing and dancing, a feast, and a celebration of Native American student graduates. The powwow also served as the district’s launch pad to American Indian Month, which is recognized in Minnesota annually in May.

READ MORE about Well-attended district powwow serves as springboard to American Indian Month