At YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, we are working actively to embody Land and Labor Acknowledgment practices. This entails not only crafting a written statement, but also identifying clear objectives and calls to action for our work internally and in communities across the Metropolitan Chicago region.
You may be wondering, what is a land and labor acknowledgment? And why is it important to have one?
What is a land and labor acknowledgment?
A land and labor acknowledgment is a statement that acknowledges the traditional Indigenous inhabitants of the land in which an organization works. One of its purposes is to recognize the unpaid labor and forced servitude of them and other minority groups that were integral to the economic success and development of a geographic area. Another purpose is to reflect an awareness and appreciation of modern-day Indigenous communities. Beyond these recognitions, a strong acknowledgment also includes a call to action for the organization to deliver resources, services, and education that aim to identify, acknowledge, and remove the systemic inequities caused by colonialism and other oppressive institutional dynamics.
Why have a land and labor acknowledgment?
It is important to have a land and labor acknowledgment statement because it is a public recognition of past and current wrongs by the collective and the organization. Moreover, it signals that the organization acknowledges those who have historically and/or systemically been excluded or marginalized. It also helps ensure that the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion are embedded in all continuing education, and events. At YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, we understand it is our responsibility to acknowledge the history of settler colonialism in our geography and its lasting impact on Indigenous communities. Our ongoing land and labor acknowledgment work reflects our commitment to Indigenous rights, racial justice, and equity both in our land and labor acknowledgment statement and in our work to promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.
It is important to note that a critical part of our land and labor acknowledgment work has been partnering with American Indian communities to ensure that we decenter ourselves and center their lived experiences, making sure not to substitute our perception of how we ought to be allies or co-liberators but seek the community’s guidance and scrutiny on how best to honor them and engage with these practices. We are also committed to continuing these partnerships beyond the statement’s initial enactment to ensure our work is responsive and truly inclusive to Indigenous communities and supporting their needs and efforts.
As our land and labor acknowledgment work unfolds, we will be sure to share more about lessons learned and outcomes. If you have any questions about our ongoing work, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.