Land acknowledgement

A land acknowledgement or territorial acknowledgement is a formal statement that a public event is taking place on land originally inhabited by indigenous peoples. It is often spoken at the beginning of the event.[1]

Coburg, Victoria sign acknowledging that the Wurundjeri people originally inhabited the land

By countryEdit


In Australia, the Welcome to Country or Acknowledgement of Country is a ritual performed intended to highlight the cultural significance of the surrounding area to a particular Aboriginal Australian or Torres Strait Islander clan or language group. It has been performed since the 1970s, becoming more common since the early 2000s.[2] It is important as a refutation of the colonial fiction of terra nullius, which was overturned by the Mabo decision in 1992.[3][4]


In Canada, land acknowledgments became more popular after the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission report (which argued that the country's Indian residential school system had amounted to cultural genocide) and the election of Liberal prime minister Justin Trudeau that same year.[5] By 2019, they were a regular practice at events including National Hockey League games, ballet performances, and parliament meetings.[5] Critics of land acknowledgments have described them as excesses of political correctness or expressed concerns that they amount to empty gestures that avoid actually addressing the issues of indigenous communities.[5] Ensuring the factual accuracy of acknowledgments can be difficult due to problems like conflicting land claims or unrecorded land exchanges between indigenous groups.[5]

United StatesEdit

In the United States, the practice of land acknowledgments has been gaining momentum as well.[6] The movement began with museums on the east coast and has progressively moved west over the last several years and spread to institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations, and local governments.[7] After the 2020 Oscar land acknowledgment statement by Taika Waititi,[8][9] the movement has received more attention, both positively[10] and negatively.[11] Every*Learner*Everywhere, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has resources on the topic of land acknowledgment statements[12] and the Association for the Study of Higher Education has established a guide for land acknowledgments as well.[13] Albums such as Fiona Apple's Fetch the Bolt Cutters and Animal Collective's Time Skiffs have contained land acknowledgments of their recording studios in their respective liner notes.[14][15]


  1. ^ Downing, Suzanne (11 August 2020). "Radical Assembly adds woke land acknowledgement to agenda as a confession of colonization and occupation". Must Read Alaska. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  2. ^ Bolger, Rosemary (12 November 2020). "How Welcome to Country rituals are changing to make all Australians take note". SBS News. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  3. ^ Watson, Joey (18 March 2020). "How the Acknowledgment of Country became a core national custom - and why it matters". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  4. ^ "Welcome to Country". Aboriginal Victoria. Victoria Government. 27 October 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2020.   Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)] licence.
  5. ^ a b c d Coletta, Amanda. "Canada pays tribute to indigenous people before hockey games, school days. Some complain it rings hollow". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-10-04.
  6. ^ Keefe, Thomas (2019). "Land Acknowledgement: A Trend in Higher Education and Nonprofit Organizations,"
  7. ^ Keefe, Thomas (2019). "Land Acknowledgement: A Trend in Higher Education and Nonprofit Organizations,"
  8. ^ Zorn, Eric (2020). "Taika Waititi sings a new song at the Oscars: This land was their land."
  9. ^ Srikanth, Anagha (2020), "The Oscars acknowledged the indigenous land Hollywood sits on."
  10. ^ Stewart, Mariah, (2020),
  11. ^ Martin, Nick, (2020), February 10, 2020,
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Fiona Apple Discusses New LP and Indigenous Lands in TV Interview". SPIN. 29 April 2020. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  15. ^ Axeman, Stephen. "Animal Collective: Time Skiffs (Domino) - review". Under the Radar. Retrieved 10 May 2022.

External linksEdit