From Land Acknowledgement to Action

Developed by Karla J. Strand, DPhil, MLIS
Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian
University of Wisconsin
March 2022

This bibliography is number 99 in the series “Bibliographies in Gender and Women’s Studies,” published by the University of Wisconsin System Office of the Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian.

This page is always evolving.


This guide is designed to assist individuals and institutions in critically examining their creation, use, and evolution of land acknowledgements, especially among non-Indigenous settlers. As settler use of land acknowledgements has grown over the last few years, questions about their intentions, usefulness, and performativity have also increased. While a land acknowledgement may be one way for a settler individual or institution to attempt to verbalize solidarity with Native peoples, it can also be seen as performative and meaningless if not paired with action that helps to support Indigenous peoples in their everyday lives. This action may involve slowly building relationships, making monetary donations, volunteering time, exploring voluntary land taxes, rematriating artifacts and land, participating in non-violent actions, and more. In critically questioning our own use of land acknowledgements, the Office of the GWSL and the UW-System Women’s and Gender Studies Consortium has created this guide of resources that we’ve looked to for information on how to move beyond land acknowledgements to action.

Some of the resources here will have wide appeal and can be used by anyone regardless of place. Some are tailored to our local communities in what is known as Wisconsin and the Midwest. Part of the work that must be done by all non-Indigenous settler individuals and institutions is to find the Indigenous groups and organizations living and working within your local communities and find out how to best support them. Our work goes beyond knowing whose land we occupy and acknowledging that violent offenses have been committed against entire populations in the past. It is learning the histories of the people who are Indigenous to the land we are on but also knowing that they are still here, leading full and fruitful lives, often offering the first defense for the land, air, and water that many of us take for granted every day. It is performing regular self-assessments to critically examine your practices for appropriation, saviorism, harm, or optical allyship. It is growing an understanding of issues that are important to local Indigenous peoples, developing relationships and advocating for their interests, and respecting their knowledge and sovereignty in all situations. When you reach out to local groups, be humble. Listen and follow their lead. Offer to compensate them or to provide other services that they deem useful and appropriate for their endeavors. Develop lasting relationships and show up consistently, when asked, in ways that honor their autonomy, expertise, legacy, and plans for the future.

None of this work is done in isolation; it’s only collectively that we can make useful, meaningful, lasting, and sustainable change. We want to publicly thank the Indigenous organizations and individuals who have created the resources on these pages and those doing other imperative work. We’ve also privately donated to them to compensate them for their labor. We invite you to do the same, either to those listed here or ones within your local areas. This is just one step we’ve taken and there is much more work for us to do. We hope you find this guide helpful.

To use this guide, click on the resources below or on any of the menu items on the right side to explore a variety of topics and resource types. Because we are white settlers working at a land-grab academic institution in the Midwestern US, our work is automatically situated deep within the structures of cishetallopatriarchy, colonialism, and white supremacy, even as we attempt to disrupt these structures. We’ve focused on centering the voices and work of Indigenous peoples in this guide but because many non-Indigenous settlers may use it, it inevitably focuses on white people and academic spaces to a certain extent. It provides readings and ideas for organizations and other initiatives that settler scholars may want to pursue, but we encourage you to explore local opportunities to learn, support, and grow relationships with peoples and groups in your area.

We welcome suggestions for additions or changes at any time.

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