Land and Territory Acknowledgements are now a customary part of opening up a conference. Creating one for a virtual conference is challenging.
Do we acknowledge the traditional Indigenous inhabitants who once lived in San Jose, California where Zoom is headquartered? The Ohlone are Native American people located in the Northern California Coast, tribes inhabited areas from the coast of San Francisco through Monterey Bay to lower Salinas Valley. Ohlone is a collective of around 50 separate tribes with related languages that were collectively placed under the umbrella term: Ohlone. The Ohlone family of tribes have been living in the Bay Area for 10,000 years. The Ohlone are still here today fighting to keep their culture alive despite the legacy of Spanish missions and Mexican and American colonization.
This is all true and yet there is so much more that needs to be said. Instead of being a customary or performative statement, there is an obligation and commitment that should be made in these acknowledgements. As we are stretched across North America and may have those joining from across the world, instead of creating one statement we urge taking direct action to support Indigenous rights and culture. We will have prompts on how to do this at the start of each session as people come in and out of different sessions.
What we can say is that it is true that all governments in North America committed atrocities against Indigenous, Native American, and First Nation peoples. It is true that despite the theft of this land, this is still Indigenous land. It is true that Indigenous people are part of our present and future. We must also remember that our history includes those who were kidnapped and brought here in the name of colonization and imperialism. We need to learn, protect, and honor the history and people of the places we each individually live in. We honor the lives of all who endured and continue to endure in the face of settler colonial oppression and white supremacy.