It is no secret that the United States is built on stolen indigenous land, on which many people lived, hunted, and worshiped for thousands of years before European colonization. While none of us can change the past, we can recognize the injustice and give acknowledgement to the tribal land before each picnic gathering with friends, at the entrance to each trailhead, or while pushing your kayak off into the river. According to the Native Governance Center, a land acknowledgement, “should function as living celebrations of indigenous communities.”
Compared against the Western worldview, the indigenous worldview strikes a more balanced and harmonious material and spiritual relationship with nature. Where the dominant worldview categorizes the nature, the landscape, wilderness, and non-human beings including plants and animals as utilitarian resources and objects whose inherent purpose is human consumption, Wahinkpe Topa (Four Arrows) and Darcia Narvaez in their 2022 book Restoring a Kinship Worldview explore what they are naming the “kincentric” worldview which could be “the first step toward returning to an earth-based consciousness, a starting place for relocalizing or restoring place-based knowledge,” Four Arrows and Dr. Narvaez present excerpts of speeches, letters, and testimony from First Nation leaders which illustrates the depth of kincentric values as expressed through common indigenous worldview manifestations. Interwoven in this dialogue are consistent ideas that the natural world is sacred, and that “the indigenous worldview reflects the original instructions for how to approach living well on the earth.”
Restoring the sacred and healing relationship with nature requires a conscious and intentional awareness of the cultures who are indigenous to the land, otherwise we risk more colonization and cultural appropriation. The Native Governance Center asks that anyone who is constructing a land acknowledgement for any reason to start with self-reflection and research, and to use appropriate and truthful language to describe the past. They have a lot of really helpful reminders, tips, and resources to learn more and get involved on their website, so check it out for sure.