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Land Acknowledgement – What is it and Why is it Important?

by Piper Sallquist, Early Elementary Classroom Teacher

When we are at UCDS, we are in the city of Seattle, which is the ancestral land and home of the Duwamish Tribe. The Duwamish people lived here for 10,000 years and still live here today. We at UCDS honor with gratitude the land itself and the Duwamish People. 

This is a land acknowledgment. Land acknowledgment in public spaces has become more and more common around the region and the country—you might have encountered it at meetings, events, or noticed words of acknowledgement posted in visible areas. It is not a new practice—as stated on the Duwamish Tribe website, “Land acknowledgment is a traditional custom dating back centuries for many Native communities and nations. For non-Indigenous communities, land acknowledgment is a powerful way of showing respect and honoring the Indigenous Peoples of the land on which we work and live. Acknowledgment is a simple way of resisting the erasure of Indigenous histories and working towards honoring and inviting the truth.”

Why is it important to know whose land we live on? Indigenous history is American history, and by learning the cultures and histories of Indigenous Peoples we honor those histories and counter the narratives of discovery and colonial power.  “Acknowledgement by itself is a small gesture. It becomes meaningful when coupled with authentic relationship and informed action” (

Last October in the 1st and 2nd grades, we celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day. We read about the Duwamish Tribe, created land acknowledgement signs to post in visible places, and listened to stories told by Duwamish and Coast Salish peoples. Together, we sought to learn the history of the land we call home—who lived here first, what happened, and how Indigenous voices can be amplified, acknowledged, and acted upon today. We aim to continue. Through regular and thoughtful acknowledgement that our school is on Indigenous land, we create a practice of the ongoing and intentional pursuit of truth, awareness, and inspiration to action. 

Learn more about Land Acknowledgement here: