Mount Holyoke’s Land Acknowledgement Policy

Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Kijua Sanders-McMurtry on Mount Holyoke’s new Land Acknowledgement Policy & the Indigenous Peoples Day Teach-In.

October 11, 2021

Dear members of the Mount Holyoke community, 

Indigenous Peoples Day is an important national commemoration of the experiences, histories and lives of the original inhabitants and caretakers of the land who resided in North America. Historically, there have been erasures of the particular contributions of the Indigenous Peoples of North America. There have also been omissions of the egregious acts of violence that were perpetrated against Indigenous tribes and the continuous harm that exists to this day. At Mount Holyoke, our ongoing commitment to becoming an anti-racist community is one that necessitates constant reflection and action. Thus, we are working diligently to explore the College’s complex past through the Histories, Legacies and Memories Task Force as part of our anti-racism action plan. We are also grateful for our purposeful collaboration with activist and critical pedagogue Claudia Fox Tree. She has provided many educational opportunities to our campus community and worked as a consultant with us on key efforts. To learn more about her work with the College, please read this interview

As a key next step, the College’s leadership team, after consultation with key internal and external stakeholders, has developed a Land Acknowledgement Policy. We welcome feedback regarding the language in the policy. Going forward, the College will open each significant College-sponsored event with a land acknowledgement honoring the original inhabitants that were tribes of the land in Western Massachusetts. 

As part of the work of the History, Legacies and Memory Task Force, we will continue to strategize next steps for providing redress to the Indigenous communities who have been impacted by the College’s positionality. In 2020, we announced that Mount Holyoke would acknowledge Indigenous Peoples Day and continue to seek opportunities for learning, engagement and reconciliation in solidarity with communities of Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC), along with other marginalized and historically excluded communities. As part of our 2021 recognition of this commemoration, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), inspired by the Lynk project of DEI Fellow Angelis Liriano ’22, will be leading an Indigenous Peoples Day Teach-In with a series of pre-recorded and live virtual events throughout the day. Events will include a session on Indigenous Self-Determination featuring Marcus Trujillo of the Pueblo Action Alliance and a panel on allyship with Indigenous communities led by Claudia Fox Tree. These events are free, open to the public and require advance registration. Members of MoZone, our diversity peer education program founded by students, will also lead an important ally-focused follow up session to inspire ongoing action after the teach-in. We also encourage you to avail yourselves of resources with organizations committed to advancing education, building capacity and supporting Indigenous people. 


Massachusetts resources

Land Acknowledgement resources

National educational resources and materials

In community, 

Kijua Sanders-McMurtry 
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion