Diversity Council | Thursday, March 7, 2019
On Monday night, the Notre Dame Student Senate passed two resolutions that will help to greatly improve the Native American experience at Notre Dame.
First, a resolution for a land acknowledgment of the Native nations, including the Pokagon Potawatomi, that came before the founding of Notre Dame. The recommended acknowledgement being:
We acknowledge our presence on the traditional homelands of Native peoples particularly the Pokégnek Bodéwadmik/Pokagon Potawatomi, who have been using this land for education for thousands of years, and continue to do so.
The land acknowledgement was proposed to be read before events like the “Walk the Walk” luncheon, senate meetings, graduation and Welcome Weekend events.
Land acknowledgments serve as both a sign of respect to people who are still here, but also an effective tool for those who do not know whose land they occupy. It is also uniquely useful for Notre Dame, who shares a unique and storied past with the Pokagon Potawatomi. While Notre Dame may serve as the caretaker of the land it now sits on, an acknowledgment of those who allowed it to become the University it has become is important. As one of the few Pokagon students on campus, it means a lot to know that there are people who support and recognize that I have had family here for many years, even before Notre Dame came to be. The idea for the resolution has been around since before I got to Notre Dame. Many other schools like Stanford, Michigan State and Northwestern University have already implemented land acknowledgments. So, Native American Student Association of Notre Dame (NASAND) and the larger native community felt Notre Dame could take steps towards doing the same.
The second resolution called for a Native studies minor, which also implies the hiring of Native American faculty. The history and continued existence of Native people is an integral part in the story of the United States, so an academic program dedicated to them should be available in universities, especially ones as prominent as Notre Dame.
These two resolutions are great steps in continuing and building upon the relationship with the Pokagon band. Not only do they strengthen this relationship, but the resolutions also make Notre Dame an even more welcoming institution for Native peoples. I think this is great. I was really excited to see all the votes for passing the resolution after Mikey and I presented at senate. Seeing this type of support makes me even more proud to be a Notre Dame student.
Marcus Winchester-Jones is a sophomore majoring in finance and minoring in Chinese. He is the current President of the Native American Student Association.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.