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Swarthmore College creates first-ever Native American land acknowledgement

After two years of work by a special 10-person task force, Swarthmore College recently announced its first-ever indigenous land acknowledgement is ready to go.

In a statement, Swarthmore President Valerie Smith said “As good stewards, we must […] formally recognize that the College sits in Lenapehoking, or the Land of the Lenape, and honor the Indigenous Americans who cared for this land for generations.”

The land acknowledgement’s website notes the Swarthmore community can use the text at “the beginning of a College class, meeting, or event,” in an email signature, or on posters and signs.

The site also says the acknowledgement alone is “insufficient”; Swarthmore also must “strengthen [its] recruitment efforts of Indigenous students, faculty, and staff members” as well as its “ongoing training and education” to maintain the retention of same.

In her message, President Smith said the land acknowledgement task force also recommended the creation of a fund to “lift up the work, values, and concerns of Indigenous people,” and a “permanent standing committee” — headed by an indigenous leader — “to create a collaborative relationship” with local Lenape tribes.

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Land acknowledgement task force co-chair Carr Everbach told the student paper The Phoenix the acknowledgement was important for sustainability: “Swarthmore must manage its resources, including its land, in a sustainable way or else it will degrade […] It has already degraded in many ways.”

Everbach added that he hoped to establish relationships with Lenape tribes in Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Ontario and “would love to see a regular presence of Lenape people” at Swarthmore to assist in “stewarding the land through the critical upcoming decades.”

The full land acknowledgement:

As a community of learners at Swarthmore College, we acknowledge that our campus is situated in Lenapehoking — also known as the Land of the Lenape — past and present. We honor with gratitude the land itself and the Indigenous people who stewarded it throughout the generations and who were driven from it by European and American colonizers. We commit to serve as responsible stewards of the land and to our shared, ongoing responsibility for community care. Consistent with Swarthmore’s commitment to social responsibility, we seek to build a more inclusive and equitable learning space for present and future generations through deliberate actions and collaborations.

MORE: UMD land acknowledgment advocates for ‘the four-legged, the winged, those that crawl, swim’

IMAGE: TORWAISTUDIO / Shutterstock.com

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