Acknowledgement of Land

The Pennsylvania State University campuses are located on the original homelands of the Erie, Haudenosaunee (Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora), Lenape (Delaware Nation, Delaware Tribe, Stockbridge-Munsee), Shawnee (Absentee, Eastern, Oklahoma), Susquehannock, and Wahzhazhe (Osage) Nations. As a land grant institution, Penn State acknowledges and honors the traditional caretakers of these lands and strives to understand and model their responsible stewardship. We also acknowledge the longer history of these lands and our place in that history.

map of pa
pronunciation guide

Map source:

Disclaimer: The map above does not represent or intend to represent official or legal boundaries of any Indigenous nations. To learn about definitive boundaries, contact the nations in question. In addition, this map is a static representation and does not address historical movements of peoples. For further reference, please see the maps and resources in the Penn State Libraries Guide.

What is a land acknowledgement?

A Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes and respects indigenous people as traditional stewards of the land. These acknowledgements show the native roots of a geographical space, helping us reflect on the longstanding history of a space, and our current place in the context of that history. According to the Native Governance Center, a Native-led nonprofit, they are also living celebrations of indigenous communities and their integral roles in current times.

How do you use a land acknowledgement?

A Land Acknowledgement can be used to educate the community on the history of a specific place. It can be used as part of introductory remarks or statements wherever the geographical location of the physical space is invoked, e.g., in conferences, events, graduations, meetings, tours, and publications. Land Acknowledgements, when accompanied by steps to increase visibility, representation, and inclusion of indigenous individuals, can increase feelings of belonging. Some questions on how to use Land Acknowledgements appropriately have been addressed by Dr. Debbie Reese of American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) in her 2019 essay, “Are you planning to do a Land Acknowledgement?

What is the history of Penn State lands & Penn State’s acknowledgement of land?

Those interested in learning more about the resources used to derive Penn State’s Acknowledgement of Land can use the Library Guide on Indigenous Peoples in Pennsylvania History, created by Penn State Libraries in November 2021. This guide supports the work of the Penn State indigenous community to research and connect with Native American residents of Pennsylvania and Tribal Nations who can trace their histories back to the land on which Penn State campuses reside. It sheds light on how the sale of indigenous land funded the country’s land-grant institutions like Penn State, and includes books, scholarly articles, maps, government documents, treaties, web resources, and primary source materials.

The Acknowledgement of Land was crafted in collaboration with the Penn State Indigenous People’s Student Association (IPSA) and the Indigenous Faculty and Staff Alliance (IFSA) and adopted officially by Penn State in summer 2021, to acknowledge the Tribal Nations whose land Penn State now occupies across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.