WGSC Conference 2022 Land and Labor Acknowledgement

This statement was designed for the annual UW System Women’s and Gender Studies Conference held virtually April 7-9, 2022. It was read prior to four keynote sessions.

We’d like to take a moment to honor the Indigenous peoples who care for the land on which we are located, and we ask you to do the same. We are grateful for the Indigenous and ally labor that went into creating UW-Madison’s land acknowledgement, we also understand that institutional land acknowledgements are limited and deeply inadequate responses to the erasure, violence, and legacy of trauma brought on by settler colonialism. With this in mind, we will begin each day of the conference with an abbreviated version of the UW-Madison land acknowledgement and then share a paragraph that is the result of our own critical thinking about this practice.   

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is a land-grab institution that occupies ancestral Ho-Chunk land, a place their nation calls Teejop (day-JOPE). The Ho-Chunk were forced to cede this territory in 1832 and survived decades of ethnic cleansing when both the federal and state government repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, sought to forcibly remove them from Wisconsin. We honor the inherent sovereignty of the Ho-Chunk Nation, along with the eleven other First Nations of Wisconsin. 

As white settlers, we acknowledge the violence, dispossession, removal, erasure, and genocide that led to the colonization of the land, the attempted destruction of communities and lifeways, and the enslavement of millions upon whose forced labor this country was built. Since our conference is taking place virtually, we consider the legacy of colonization embedded within the technology we’re using, which remains unavailable in many Indigenous communities, that is made from materials extracted from the land, and that contributes to changing climates disproportionately affecting Indigenous people worldwide. We acknowledge the unearned benefits we receive from this continued systemic oppression. We are committed to individual and collective action to disrupt this system in support of the full sovereignty of Native peoples as well as the restoration of stolen land and resources, cultures, languages, and histories of Indigenous, Black, and other people of the global majority, who continue to live, learn, work, and thrive on these lands.

We encourage you to take a look at the link we will drop into the chat, which is a bibliography we’ve created called “From Land Acknowledgement to Action”. The resources there can help you begin to investigate whose land you occupy, research the Indigenous critiques of land acknowledgements, and provide some resources to take action.

This statement is based on: