Land Acknowledgment Honors Native American Connections

Colorado State recently adopted an official statement honoring the ties of Indigenous people to land on which the University operates. The land acknowledgment will be read at events, including commencements, and will be integrated into campus culture and history to express truth, gratitude, and respect.

The statement was developed collaboratively over two years by a committee of Indigenous campus and community members, with leadership from CSU’s Native American Cultural Center. President Tony Frank formally adopted the statement at the recommendation of a group of Native American students.

Land acknowledgment is a longstanding practice in other countries, and universities across the nation are beginning to adopt official statements, Frank explained in a campus announcement.

“When this statement is used, it should be done with respect for its intent and purpose as part of a welcome – not as part of event logistics or as a routine housekeeping item,” he said.

The official statement, which must be used in its entirety, reads:

Colorado State University acknowledges, with respect, that the land we are on today is the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute Nations and peoples. This was also a site of trade, gathering, and healing for numerous other Native tribes. We recognize the Indigenous peoples as original stewards of this land and all the relatives within it. As these words of acknowledgment are spoken and heard, the ties Nations have to their traditional homelands are renewed and reaffirmed.

CSU is founded as a land-grant institution, and we accept that our mission must encompass access to education and inclusion. And, significantly, that our founding came at a dire cost to Native Nations and peoples whose land this University was built upon. This acknowledgment is the education and inclusion we must practice in recognizing our institutional history, responsibility, and commitment.

The Council Tree, a gnarled cottonwood
The Council Tree, an enormous gnarled cottonwood near the Poudre River, was a well-known gathering point for Arapaho and other Native people on what is now the southeast side of Fort Collins. The tree is referenced in names for a city library branch, a street, and a church. Photo: Colorado State University Libraries, Archives & Special Collections