During the 2017 History of Science Society meeting in Toronto, a committee was formed  to expand the Society’s ongoing initiatives for inclusion, diversity and equality. The committee’s primary focus for the 2018 meeting in Seattle is to invite one of the six Seattle-area Nations (Duwamish, Tulalip, Muckleshoot, Snohomish, Suquamish, and Snoqualmie) to open the conference with a land acknowledgment ceremony. They are also drafting guidelines to make land acknowledgment a regular practice at conferences and institutions for research and education.

Many institutions of research and education have been erected on stolen land. Academic conferences and events are also routinely held in these spaces. Often these lands were taken under unjust and violent circumstances. However, these truths, including the devastating effects that forced relocation continues to have on native communities, are left out of dominant historical narratives.

Indigenous Land Acknowledgements, which refers to the practice of recognizing an Indigenous community’s ancestral ties to the land on which a meeting or event is taking place, are one small but tangible way institutions of culture and education in the United States can begin repairing the harm caused by mainstream historical accounts, which have excluded Indigenous voices and obscured the centrality of violence to colonialism in the United States. Acknowledging the communities that have an inseparable connection to the land on which these institutions reside challenges the mainstream narrative and calls attention to the strength of Indigenous communities which have survived the devastating effects of displacement and colonization. Further, this history informs the present experience of Native American peoples, so it is essential to the contextualization of current events.

Anyone interested in joining the committee is very welcome. They can be reached at hss.land.acknowledgment@gmail.com.