Land Acknowledgment Statement

SUU wishes to acknowledge and honor the Indigenous communities of this region as original possessors, stewards, and inhabitants of this Too’veep (land), and recognize that the University is situated on the traditional homelands of the Nung’wu (Southern Paiute People). We recognize that these lands have deeply rooted spiritual, cultural, and historical significance to the Southern Paiutes. We offer gratitude for the land itself, for the collaborative and resilient nature of the Southern Paiute people, and for the continuous opportunity to study, learn, work, and build community on their homelands here today. Consistent with the University's ongoing commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, SUU works towards building meaningful relationships with Native Nations and Indigenous communities through academic pursuits, partnerships, historical recognitions, community service, and student success efforts.

A land acknowledgment recognizes and respects the relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their ancestral and contemporary territories. Additionally, land acknowledgments provide us with the opportunity to expand our understanding of the history that has brought us to reside on the land today, to understand our place in that history, and to prevent its erasure.

Land acknowledgment is a traditional custom that dates back centuries in many Native nations and communities and is an avenue for Southern Utah University to recognize and renew our commitments to ongoing awareness and action.

History of the Southern Paiute People

“Acknowledgment by itself is a small gesture. It becomes meaningful when coupled with authentic relationships and informed action. But this beginning can be an opening to greater public consciousness of Native sovereignty and cultural rights, a step toward equitable relationship and reconciliation.” (USDAC 2017, 3)

A land acknowledgment is an important first step that provides a long overdue appreciation to the land we occupy and its inhabitants. We recommend researching, contextualizing, and examining the purpose of an acknowledgment when engaging in this practice. Offering a land acknowledgment serves as a call to action for everyone at Southern Utah University. We encourage departments, offices, and individuals to engage with these words and use these statements in meaningful ways. When opening up events, both large and small, facilitators should understand acknowledging the land is an Indigenous protocol, opening up the space for reverence and respect and incorporating this practice should reflect a genuine commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Here is what you can do to begin the ongoing and continual process of acting in solidarity with Indigenous folx (please note this is not a comprehensive list):

  • Find out if there are active Native groups or organizations in or near your community. Learn about their work and see how you can support them.
  • Be in touch with local Native community members to discern how to best introduce the practice of acknowledgment and explore how that might lead to further dialogue and collaboration.
  • Look around and ask yourself: are there Native folks present at your events? On your team? On your board? If not, what would it take to begin building those relationships? How might you move from acknowledgment into relationship? If your role involves programming at a cultural or educational institution, how might you ensure that the programming itself represents a commitment to Native voices, stories, and perspectives?

Adapted from UNLV’s Beyond a Land Acknowledgment

In early 2021, the Native American Student Association engaged in conversation with campus leadership to implement and expand several initiatives to amplify inclusion and representation for Indigenous students and community members, including the drafting and adaptation of a land acknowledgment statement. In order to formalize a land acknowledgment statement, and to support the many individual campus units and programs who had already drafted their own land acknowledgments, the Office of Equity and Inclusion convened a group of campus and community stakeholders, including tribal members, to form the Land Acknowledgment Task Force to collaboratively design a statement.

The Task Force then consulted and collaborated with members from the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah 2021 Tribal Council to improve and finalize the statement. Task Force members include:

  • Bridget Whiskers, SUU Native American Student Association President
  • Daneka Souberbielle, SUU Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Provost for Equity & Inclusion
  • Donielle Savoie, SUU Center for Diversity & Inclusion Director
  • Eric Kirby, SUU Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs
  • Emily Dean, SUU Department Chair for History, Sociology & Anthropology
  • Kyle Secakuku, SUU Native American Student Association President
  • Ron Cardon, SUU Director of Alumni Relations
  • Xavier Garcia, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah Education Director

Special thanks to Mahala Sutherland and the 2020 NASA for their foundational work in elevating the Land Acknowledgment as a university priority.

SUU wishes to acknowledge and honor the Indigenous communities of this region as original possessors, stewards, and inhabitants of this Too’veep (land), and recognize that the University is situated on the traditional homelands of the Nung’wu (Southern Paiute People).

SUU Land Acknowledgment

Departments, colleges, and other university units that wish to utilize a statement should use the approved and official SUU Land Acknowledgment statement. The official statement can be utilized to open campus events, as part of a syllabus, as part of departmental websites, and with any aim to show respect and honor the Indigenous Peoples of the land on which we work and live. For information on building meaningful work on the foundation of land acknowledgment, please refer to the "Beyond the Land Acknowledgment Statement".

Anyone who feels they need a statement on their web page, should use the short version that links to the full land acknowledgment information. SUU Web Services can help departments incorporate the short version into their page, it uses a centralized block component so that we don't duplicate content on the site.