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“Acknowledge” is a Verb

About Heading link

There has been a growing mainstream interest in Native American and Indigenous peoples and issues. One example of that interest is the increasing popularity and visibility of land acknowledgements. We called this educational campaign “Acknowledge” is a Verb to emphasize that a land acknowledgement is not just words that a person or group creates that will live on a plaque, a website, or a written page or be delivered as opening remarks at campus events. To acknowledge is to go beyond words; it requires action. This educational campaign is intended to serve as an invitation to all of UIC campus leadership, faculty, staff, and students to learn and grow.

Here you will find information and links to additional resources. We hope you will take time to learn more about Native Americans and Indigenous peoples. We are committed to supporting the growth of UIC’s understanding of land acknowledgement as one part of a larger set of actions and policies that are needed to support Native American and Indigenous members of our campus and local, national, and global communities. A land acknowledgement signals that a group is interested in supporting and creating opportunities for Native and Indigenous peoples. If there are no policies or supports behind the land acknowledgement, it serves as a hollow statement that can do more damage than good.

“Acknowledge” is a Verb seeks to increase awareness of Native American and Indigenous people, and we hope that it serves a larger goal of encouraging our campus to build supportive relationships with Native American communities and peoples, both on and off campus.

We welcome you to join us as part of a campus-wide community of partners! Please contact us to share your questions and feedback. You can email us at

Where to Start Heading link

Many people learned much of what they think about Native Americans from representations that present Native and Indigenous peoples in problematic and inaccurate ways. Extensive research examining common portrayals of Native Americans (e.g., sports team mascots), which often present them as “of the past,” or as “noble warriors” or “savages,” demonstrates that these representations promote harmful stereotypes and render Native Americans invisible in modern society. The experience of being either invisible or represented primarily or exclusively in stereotypical ways has negative consequences for Native American students’ psychological well-being, educational achievement, and sense of belonging in higher education settings.

It is important to be aware of how Native Americans are commonly portrayed, because these depictions shape how people will approach creating and implementing a land acknowledgement and the necessary supporting actions that accompany it. For example, a dominant misconception is that Native Americans live mostly or exclusively on tribal land. In fact, the majority of Native Americans live in urban or suburban communities. Taking our local context as an example, Chicago is home to one of the largest urban Native American communities in the United States. In order to recognize and partner with Native Americans and Indigenous peoples, which is a best practice in creating reciprocal relationships and land acknowledgements, it is important to begin with a shared understanding of Native Americans and Indigenous peoples as contributing members of our UIC and Chicago communities. It is imperative that we commit to learning about the history of Chicago as Native American homelands and the many ways that colonialism has shaped and continues to affect Native American survival, sovereignty, and ways of life across the United States. Finally, as we are part of a land grant university system, we must also educate ourselves about the theft of Native American land for the benefit of public higher education institutions and our unique responsibility to support Native American communities.

Many people who are not familiar with Native American and Indigenous issues struggle to find a place to start their learning. To provide an overview of some important context and issues relevant to Native Americans, which are highly relevant to considerations related to land acknowledgements and beyond, we created a two-part audio series to accompany the launch of “Acknowledge” is a Verb. These episodes and transcripts for each are linked below. In the sections below the episode links, we provide links to additional resources to help you explore the issues we discuss and topics extending beyond those we were able to cover in our conversations.

We will update this page with new information to continue to educate our campus community about Native American and Indigenous peoples, important issues they are facing, and how our campus is responding to meet the needs of Native American and Indigenous members of our UIC community and beyond.

Podcast Episodes Heading link

Additional Information and Resources Heading link