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Land Acknowledgement Statement

During the past several months, a group of faculty, students and administrators have collaborated to draft the Land Acknowledgement Statement. Among the many reasons for adopting the statement is the need for Oakland University to demonstrate a public show of respect to Native peoples who have been historically marginalized from American institutions, politics and academic curriculums.

We are also here to honor our Native American ancestors whose ways of knowing demonstrated reverence and respect for the land on which Oakland University now stands. We pledge to elevate our ways of knowing to better reflect the sustainable practices and peaceful coexistence that has allowed our beloved university to thrive.

The formal and public acknowledgement is an explicit gesture intended to cultivate a mutually beneficial dialogue, which is an essential feature in building an inclusive campus community. The statement will be displayed on the OU website, eventually integrated into courses on American history, politics, and culture, and, whenever appropriate, delivered at events.

Widely supported throughout the university, the statement reflects the values at the heart of OU’s continual engagement to shape a more knowledgeable, diverse and fair society.

We’d like to extend special appreciation to Andrea Knutson (Assoc. Professor, English Dept.), Ashleigh Dubie (Cherokee, English/STEP, student), Megan Peiser (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Asst. Professor, English Dept.), Mozhgon Rajaee (Asst. Professor, Health Sciences), Kevin Corcoran (Dean, College of Arts and Sciences), Cynthia Miree-Coppin (Faculty Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee), Joi Cunningham (Provost’s Office), and the OU Senate committee (chaired by Jason Wasserman) for leading the effort to establish the OU Land Acknowledgement Statement, which reads:

Oakland University resides on the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the Anishinaabe, known as the Three Fires Confederacy, comprised of the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi. The land was ceded in the 1807 Treaty of Detroit and makes up southeast Michigan.

In recognizing the history and respecting the sovereignty of Michigan’s Indian Nations, Oakland University honors the heritage of Indigenous communities and their significant role in shaping the course of this region. Further, we recognize the wrongs done to those forcibly removed from their Homelands and commit to fostering an environment of inclusion that is responsive to the needs of First Peoples through our words, policies, and actions.

The preservation and perpetuation of customs and traditions of Indigenous nations are essential to our shared cultural heritage. A deep understanding of Native peoples’ past and present informs the teaching, research, and community engagement of the university in its ongoing effort to elevate the dignity of all people and serve as shared stewards of the land.

The statement was approved by the OU Senate on February 18. It was presented to the OU Board of Trustees at their April 8 meeting. Universities around the state and country have issued similar land acknowledgement statements.

Again, thank you to the faculty for driving this initiative, pushing for greater recognition and equity for Native peoples, engaging in our broader community, and for being invaluable partners in the ongoing development of our university.

Britt Rios-Ellis, Executive VP, Academic Affairs & Provost
Glenn McIntosh, Senior VP, Student Affairs & Chief Diversity Officer

Native American Advisory Committee - OU Representatives

  • Amy Banes-Berceli (Interim Associate Provost, Operations)
  • Ashleigh Dubie (Cherokee, English-STEP Student, Land Acknowledgment Committee)
  • Andrea Knutson (Associate Professor, English, Land Acknowledgment Committee)
  • Megan Peiser (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Assistant Professor of English, Land Acknowledgment Committee)
  • Mozghon Rajaee (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Public Environmental Wellness, Land Acknowledgment Committee)
  • Deborah Vanderlinde (Associate Professor of Music Education, School of Music, Theater, and Dance)
  • Graeme Harper (Dean, Honors College)
  • Elizabeth Wallis (Cherokee, Associate Dean, University Libraries)
  • Nivedita Mukherji (Interim Associate Provost, Faculty Affairs)
  • Noelle Mongene (Anishinaabe, Graduate Student at OU)

Division of Student Affairs & Diversity

Oakland Center, Suite 150
312 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309-4452
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(248) 370-4200

Monday - Friday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.