The University of Oklahoma Undergraduate Student Congress recently passed a resolution mandating that all Student Government Association meetings begin with an acknowledgement that the university sits on indigenous land.
Specifically, the Indigenous Land Acknowledgement Act notes that OU students are “visitors on [indigenous] land,” and gives thanks to any Native Americans present “for allowing [students] to gather.”
It passed by a unanimous vote, 28-0.
The resolution was sponsored by SGA President Adran Gibbs and the SGA inclusivity department’s Taylor Chiariello, according to OUDaily.
“It’s doing the right thing. It’s acknowledging what should be acknowledged at every event,” chair Emma DeAngeli said.
The decision comes on the heels of the first Cherokee Nation delegate being appointed to the US House of Representatives. University of Oklahoma alumnus Chuck Hoskin Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee, chose Kimberly Teehee for the role on August 29. Hoskin noted the Cherokee have the right to representation under the 1835 Treaty of New Echota.
In 2015, Teehee gave the keynote speech at a OU Law symposium titled “Indigenous Women, Law and Power.” She is a former adviser to Barack Obama.
According to its website, the Cherokee Nation is the largest of 567 “federally recognized tribes” and has over 370,000 members, one-third of whom live in northeastern Oklahoma.
Several years ago, members of the OU student group Indigenize OU approved a resolution calling for an “Indigenous People’s Day” to replace Columbus Day, and for the abolition of the terms “Boomer” and “Sooner” from university lexicon. The monikers refer to “those who settled in Oklahoma during the land rush of 1889.”
For Natives, however, Indigenize OU claims the words “invoke collective historical memories of displacements and cultural genocide.”