NEWS BITE: Tacoma Public Schools Adds ‘Puyallup Tribe Land Acknowledgement’ Apology After ‘U.S. Pledge of Allegiance’

Board Members Recite 83-word "Land Acknowledgement" at Every Meeting
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Photo: Mark Tulin/Unsplash

At the start of the school board meetings, Tacoma Public Schools board members recite an 83-word “land acknowledgement” statement expressing gratitude to the Native American tribe for “allowing us passage to their lands.”

The acknowledgement to the Puyallup Tribe made by the state of Washington school district is on the agenda and is recited after the Pledge of Allegiance. The land acknowledgement first appeared on the school district board meeting agenda on June 24, 2021.

Land acknowledgements are becoming more prevalent in elected public bodies. A different tribe – the Duwamish from the Seattle area – say they are overwhelmed with “acknowledgments” and have asked those seeking advice to figure it out on their own.

“We receive countless inquiries on acknowledgements daily and request that those looking to make land acknowledgements first try to construct their own before contacting Duwamish Tribal Services for comments or help,” the Duwamish posted on their website. “We greatly appreciate the increased interest in this traditional practice, but the large volume of inquiries received does not always allow us to respond in a timely manner. Your acknowledgement should come from the heart, and we cannot provide you with the exact words to use.”

The Seattle Mennonite Church acknowledges they are on the “unceded ancestral lands” of the Duwamish people.

The statement Tacoma School board members recite reads, “Tacoma Public Schools acknowledges that we are on the traditional ancestral and historical lands of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. We honor with gratitude the land itself and the Puyallup Tribe. This acknowledgement serves as a first step in honoring our nearest tribal neighbors and partners who have inhabited this region since time immemorial, and whom we give thanks for allowing us passage to their lands. We shall intentionally create inclusive and respectful partnerships that honor Indigenous cultures, histories, identities, and sociopolitical realities.”

Tom Gantert
Tom Gantert worked at many daily newspapers including the Ann Arbor News, Lansing State Journal and USA Today. Gantert was the managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential for five years before joining The Center Square.

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