Windows and Mirrors - Read, Think, Do - Florence Sprague - February 2023

After a painfully long time since the first incursion of Europeans onto North America we have entered an era of the Indigenous Land Acknowledgement. You have likely seen and heard them in many places, from the start of events for League, the Guthrie Theater, your place of worship, museums, restaurants…well, just about everywhere it seems, and this is a good thing.

LWVMN recently released the version shown on the right []. When drafting this wording, LWVMN used many resources in the indigenous community, particularly the Native Governance Center. I encourage you to go to LWVMN’s Indigenous Land Acknowledgement page and read the interesting resources that accompany the statement.

A link on that page takes you to the Native Governance Center website. There it is quickly clear that acknowledgements like these are important, but they are important not as an accomplishment, but as the first step on a longer journey, and those of us reading, hearing, and utilizing such statements have a lot more to do.

To my knowledge, LWVMN has not promulgated any guidelines for local Leagues on whether we should use LWVMN’s statement or create our own. Nor are there guidelines on when and how to use this or our own statement. This gives us the leeway and the responsibility to think at length and depth about the meaning and purpose of the words.

In its Guide to Indigenous Land Acknowledgments, the Native Governance Center offers several thinking points for us to ponder on this journey.

  • Start with self-reflection.
  • Do your homework about your location.
  • Don’t sugarcoat the past.
  • Think in past, present, and future tenses.

These are important because they lay the foundation for the further steps and hard work our communities need. It is complicated, with no one-size-fits-all answers to the multitude of issues our history has left us with. They also note, “Starting somewhere is better than not trying at all. We need to share in Indigenous peoples’ discomfort. They’ve been uncomfortable for a long time. Dr. Kate Beane (Flandreau Santee Dakota and Muskogee Creek) says, ‘We have to try. Starting out with good intentions and a good heart is what matters most.’”

Please bring your good heart to this matter. Read, think, and help LWV of Roseville Area to discern how to go forward. What is our why? Where will it take us? Where will we take it?