Learning Your (and My) Land Acknowledgement

While it's not new, during the last few weeks of the pandemic, there's been a big cultural shift in more people including land acknowledgements when they announce their location while on Zoom. In addition to our traditional American viewpoint of mentioning our city and state, this is to acknowledge that we white folx were not the first people on the land. Depending on where you live or work, there may have been quite a few other people there in the past. There are two great ways to look up who came before you:

Online, check out Land Native at https://native-land.ca/ (I'd normally be slick and not show you the spelled out website, but it's so easy to remember, I'm including the website in full.) You input your address, and it gives you the names of the groups of people (nations) who inhabited the area in the past.

Last week, I also found out about a phone bot version. Text your city and state (either spelled out or two-letter abbreviation) to 907-312-5085, and you'll get an automated message back.

Here in Aurora, Colorado, I'm on the land of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), and Očeti Šakówiŋ. The latter, in the past, were referred to as the Sioux. That is a name used by the French, after adapting a word used by a rival Indian group. I'm working up the pronunciation of both of the new-to-me nations.

Here's a video to practice Očeti Šakówiŋ (also written as Oceti Sakowin or Očhéthi Šakówiŋ):

Wikipedia writes the pronunciation as [oˈtʃʰetʰi ʃaˈkowĩ]

Oddly, I'm having a hard time finding an online resource for Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱, but have a friend connecting me.

Referring to Wikipedia again, the origin of the word Ute is unknown, but Yuta was first used in Spanish documents. The Utes' self-designation is based upon núuchi-u, meaning 'the people.'

A screenshot of the map shown at native-land.ca when you input Aurora, Colorado, to retrieve names of those who had been on the land before
The Native-Land.ca map of my area - beautiful on screen

3 thoughts on “Learning Your (and My) Land Acknowledgement”

  1. Did you ever find a pronunciation for Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱? I’ve been trying to find one, so that I can try to pronounce it correctly (or at least closer to the original). I am taking a Chinuk Wawa class (https://www.lanecc.edu/llc/language/chinuk-wawa) and when we talk about where we live or where we are from we use either the indigenous names of that location or the land of [native people].

    1. You have reminded me that I hadn’t followed up on some resources I’ve gotten since this post. Most importantly, I was told, “Please keep in mind that this work is grounded in relationship – which involves interacting with & actually listening to local Tribes & local Tribal People with which each stage manager is interacting. In other words, the best research and the Pronunciation Guide is obtained by interacting in positive, non-oppressive ways with the First People of your respective areas who will then give you feedback & insight. But you have to demonstrate that you are open to that insight & feedback or Indian People will shut down and disengage.” So, I’ve done some further research as to WHICH Ute band was most directly linked to my area, and am now going to contact the current Ute Peoples connected with that band to see what they want said. Given that the name of several of their reservations use the word Ute, I’m going to guess that that’s why there’s no pronunciation readily available, and the word they prefer. (Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ might be the name they use for themselves, but is not for outsiders to use, for instance – but I don’t know that). Meanwhile, it makes sense, it’s best to ask them directly. Again, thank you for spurring me to continue investigating this. By the way, another great resource I was given is this: https://usdac.us/nativeland, as well as this article on punctuation and capitalization https://thetyee.ca/News/2020/01/17/Copy-Editor-Indigenous-Style/. Meanwhile, your class sounds fascinating!

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