Creating the St. Thomas Land Acknowledgment
In November 2020 the University of St. Thomas Land Acknowledgment Committee forwarded its statement and recommendations to the faculty and senior leadership to establish the institution's Land Acknowledgment.
The committee designed the statement to not only recognize how past actions of colonialism in the United States have been central to the marginalization of indigenous peoples, particularly in Minnesota, but also how the University of St. Thomas can frame its mission priorities in developing an environment of moral leadership in the education of our students. In addition, the committee's wish is that the statement can direct the university in its actions to rectify the injustices of the past and present against Indigenous peoples.
University of St. Thomas Land Acknowledgment
Inspired by Catholic intellectual tradition, we invite you to reflect on these verses of scripture that offer us guidance in this endeavor:
- Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2
- But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. James 2:18
As a Catholic institution dedicated to the pursuit of truth, the University of St. Thomas recognizes that it occupies the ancestral and current homelands of the Dakota people, “Mni Sota Makoce”. The University of St. Thomas community also recognizes the territory of the Ojibwe and Ho-Chunk whose lands were also colonized by the United States and are occupied by the State of Minnesota. As a country, we acknowledge the actions of our past, our present, and how these actions have developed systems of oppression, rooted in settler colonialism that marginalized underrepresented peoples.
We condemn the acts of evil including genocide and forced assimilation done in the name of white supremacy and the continued oppression of Indigenous peoples on the land that belongs to them. It is our mission to not only rectify these wrongs, but also provide an educational environment for our students, who as morally responsible leaders, will continue to dismantle this legacy of violence and work to support and empower those who have been marginalized in our nation and the world. It is our goal to continue the process of decolonizing the mind and proactively integrating this process into our words and actions.
The Catholic Church and the University of St. Thomas teach that every person is born in the image and likeness of the Creator, and so, has dignity and inalienable worth. It is this belief that underlies all moral teaching regarding the intrinsic value of life, and which underlies the care for the person as the heart of Catholic education. We are committed to the long, yet urgent work of truth-telling and relationship building as we seek a way forward as relatives in the University of St. Thomas community, the Indigenous communities, and those who traverse multiple communities.
Pronunciation Note: Mni (mnee) Sota (shoh-dah) Makoce (mah-koh-chay)
In situations when using the full expression of the Land Acknowledgment (shown above) is not feasible, this shorter version can be used. It is preferred that the St. Thomas community use the full expression (longer version) of the Land Acknowledgment since each word holds significance to the important work of truth-telling, reflection and social justice. It is recommended, since our work in this endeavor is a community effort, to read the Land Acknowledgment in teams of two individuals with each one taking turns reading one paragraph to begin gatherings or university programs.
Short-form of the University of St. Thomas Land Acknowledgment
The University of St. Thomas occupies the ancestral and current homelands of the Dakota people, Mni Sota Makoce. We also recognize the Ojibwe and Ho-Chunk whose lands were colonized by the United States and are currently occupied by the State of Minnesota.
We condemn the tools of settler colonialism, including genocide and forced assimilation, undertaken in the name of white supremacy that created structures of injustice and inequity that continue to oppress and marginalize Indigenous and underrepresented peoples.
We work towards the process of decolonizing minds and educating students to be morally responsible leaders. We commit to the work of truth-telling and relationship building as we seek new pathways forward as relatives in the University of St. Thomas community, the Indigenous communities, and those who traverse multiple communities.
- Sleeper-Smith, Susan. et al. Why You Can’t Teach United States History without American Indians (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2015)
- Treuer, Anton. Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid To Ask (St. Paul: Borealis Books, 2012)
- Waziyatawin. What Does Justice Look Like?: The Struggle for Liberation in Dakota Homeland (St. Paul: Living Justice Press, 2008)
- Westerman, Gwen & Bruce White. Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2012)
- Witgen, Michael. An Infinity of Nation: How the Native New World Shaped Early North America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012)