Land Acknowledgement, Revised and Reaffirmed September 2023
Delta Institute acknowledges that we reside on the traditional and current land of the Kickapoo, Kaskaskia, Potawatomi, Peoria, Miami, and many other nations. The members of these nations were the original caretakers and stewards of the land before their removal, persecution, discrimination, and erasure that continues to this day. Delta Institute cannot be authentic in our goal of creating a more resilient home for all Midwesterners without recognizing the trauma, past and present, resulting from the colonization of Indigenous people.
We cannot be authentic without also celebrating the incalculable contributions, lessons, and methodologies to our society that stem from Indigenous wisdom. We recognize and act with gratitude that Indigenous design has directly and fundamentally benefited the environmental sector and our thinking. Indeed, most of the conservation practices implemented at Delta Institute result from Indigenous practices. Indigenous culture infuses all that we do—such as the use of natural design, flood and climate resiliency practices, community-based support mechanisms, and a vast array of approaches, philosophies and wisdom that stem from Indigenous lived experience.
We call on white-led and white-majority organizations, like ourselves, to reject extraction and co-option of Indigenous design and wisdom, to instead center meaningful investment and engage in authentic collaboration for a shared vision of equitable environmental and economic outcomes for the Midwest.
Words without action do not address historical and current social ills. Please learn more about the history of Indigenous nations on land that Delta Institute and our projects currently occupy, how these Indigenous communities thrive today, and how we may all holistically and equitably uplift.
- Kickapoo (KICK-a-poo)
- Kaskaskia (kahs-KAHS-kee-ah)
- Potawatomi (pot-tah-WAH-tah-mee)
- Peoria (pea-OR-e-ah)
- Miami (my-AM-e)
We at Delta Institute created this Land Acknowledgement following multiple rounds of development, review, and discussion involving our staff, Delta Emerging Leaders associate board, and governing board of directors for over one year. Delta’s Board of Directors voted to adopt this Black Labor Acknowledgement in March 2023, with updates reaffirmed in September 2023.
Additional Learning and Resources
- American Indian Center of Chicago
- Citizen Potawatomi Nation
- Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma
- Native Governance Center: “A Guide to Indigenous Land Acknowledgement” and “Beyond Land Acknowledgement: A Guide”
- Native Land Digital
- Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma
Questions we considered while developing a Land Acknowledgement
Recognizing our history is a critical step to move toward a more equitable future. Delta believes in creating a region where all people and land thrive, and this must include acknowledging the Indigenous people who originally occupied our land. This acknowledgement cannot talk about Indigenous people as a relic of the past. Instead, acknowledgements should celebrate their current vibrant communities that have withstood all the erasure caused by colonialization, with related forced removal and displacement. It must also recognize that discrimination and actions from current colonization efforts still exist.
In developing this acknowledgement, we used the following guidelines and questions shared by the Native Governance Center. Below are also short, summarized answers we developed throughout our work.
Why are we doing this land acknowledgement?
Delta’s work encompasses the entire Midwest, and we cannot successfully work in our many communities and on hundreds of thousands/millions of acres of land without acknowledging generations of caretakers, celebrating stewardship, and internalizing displacement and the directly related environmental and economic justice caused by colonialization. Additionally, as we expand our programmatic reach and impact, we want to ensure that we have created an inclusive culture so that Indigenous-led organizations and Tribal Nations are welcomed and celebrated in exploring partnerships and collaborations with our work.
What is my end goal, i.e., What do we hope readers will do after reading the acknowledgement?
Delta hopes that our constituents (partners, supporters, volunteers, website visitors, and more) will continue to think and actively seek out more information about Indigenous history and the history of where they live, inclusive of all caretakers of the land. We also hope they would consider their support of local Indigenous communities and causes, while exploring narratives that have been the “status quo” for generations in both the Midwest and the broader nation.
When will I have the largest impact? (Think about your timing and audience, specifically.)
We will begin by publishing this acknowledgement on our website for the greater public, followed by announcements regarding its availability via email and social media to Delta’s newsletter subscribers and online followers. Beyond this, we will begin integrating this through Delta’s other communications channels, such as at our events and in our published tools and resources—especially those which focus on land use.
Why is this acknowledgement happening? How does this acknowledgement relate to the event or work you are doing?
Delta set several programmatic goals as part of our refined strategic plan for 2022 through 2025, and as such, we want to ensure that we are pursuing these in an approach that is inclusive and welcoming for all Midwest communities, including Indigenous communities and Tribal Nations. Furthermore, Delta’s programmatic goal of implementation conservation activities across one million acres of Midwestern land by 2025 further prompted us to reflect on the history of the land, and legacy considerations—lest we end up perpetuating systemic and societal injustice.
Land acknowledgement alone is not enough.
It’s merely a starting point. We at Delta should regularly consider how we plan to take action to support Indigenous communities, as related to both the above question of incorporation in our messaging, but more importantly and deeply in our methodology, project implementation, and fundamental DNA as a nonprofit focusing on both community-level and land-focused efforts.
More about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Delta Institute
Over the past few years, we have committed ourselves to being more transparent with our partners, supporters, and stakeholders regarding our approach to advancing DEI at Delta Institute. It is in this same spirit, that we offer this short update about where we’ve been, what we’re working on, and what we’re looking toward for the future at Delta Institute. We encourage you to learn more about our recent activities, such as developing a Black Labor Acknowledgement, our Inclusive Community Engagement Stipend Policy, and our approach to inclusive vocabulary.