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Land and Peoples Acknowledgment

“Acknowledgment by itself is a small gesture. It becomes meaningful when coupled with authentic relationships and informed action. But this beginning can be an opening to greater public consciousness of Native sovereignty and cultural rights, a step toward equitable relationship and reconciliation… Acknowledgment of traditional land is a public statement of the name of the traditional Native inhabitants of a place. It honors their historic relationship with the land.”

-Honor Native Land Guide, U.S. Department of Arts and Culture

Vancouver Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services department acknowledges the people whose ancestral lands we inhabit today. Prior to the introduction of white settlers to the area currently known as Clark County, this land was cared for by indigenous peoples for thousands of years.

At the time that colonization began, this area of Southwest Washington was occupied primarily by the Chinook and Cowlitz tribes. Additionally, countless tribes from across the Pacific Northwest came to this area to trade with one another by using the Columbia River and its adjoining waterways as an intricate network of trade routes.

For millennia, their communities thrived while maintaining a balanced, sustainable relationship with the natural world. These values were passed down from generation to generation and are still practiced by indigenous groups today, including the Cowlitz and Chinook. We pay our respects to these peoples, both past and present, by coming together to protect and honor the last legacies of the great natural areas that once dominated this region.

What is a Land Acknowledgment Statement?

By creating a land acknowledgment, an organization provides a tool groups can use to recognize and respect the unique and enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories. Acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way of showing respect and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture and toward inviting and honoring the truth.

Additional Resources

Special thanks to 2019-2020 AmeriCorps members for their research and collaborative work to create this land and peoples acknowledgment.