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NAS WVU Native American Studies Land Acknowledgement

WVU, with its statewide institutional presence, resides on land that includes ancestral territories of the Shawnee, Lenape (Delaware), Haudenosaunee (Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, Tuscarora), Cherokee, and many other Indigenous peoples.

In acknowledging this, we recognize and appreciate those Indigenous nations whose territories we are living on and working in. Indigenous peoples have been in the land currently known as West Virginia since time immemorial.

It is important that we understand both the context that has brought our university community to reside on this land, and our place within this long history. We also recognize that colonialism is a current ongoing process, and as scholars seeking truth and understanding, we need to be mindful of our present participation in this process.

(developed in Fall 2019 with input from NAS Committee members, after consultation with tribes, to be read at NAS public events and included in NAS syllabi, and shared with others, including WVU Humanities Center, Morgantown Human Rights Commission, et al.)


From our beginnings in the early 1980s, a cornerstone of our educational mission has been the belief that some of the best learning takes place when people tell their own story, in their own words. Year after year, outstanding Native leaders have come to campus offering their insights as elders and leaders in their Native communities, and sharing their perspectives as writers, scholars, artists, activists, teachers, and cultural preservationists. Native teachers from some of the hundreds of Native Nations have offered courses on campus, visited our classrooms as guest lecturers, and dialog with students, in person and live via Skype and teleconferencing.

We have been blessed with visits from many renowned and distinguished individuals, such as:

Wilma Mankiller, former Principal Chief of the  Cherokee Nation

Peterson Zah, former President and Chairman of the  Navajo Nation

Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper, Turtle Clan,  Onondaga Nation, Haudenosaunee, Six Nations – Iroquois Confederacy

Walter Echo-Hawk (Pawnee), Native American Rights Attorney, author, professor

Leslie Marmon Silko ( Laguna Pueblo), award-winning writer

Ada Deer (Menominee), former Menominee tribal leader and Assistant Secretary, Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs

Henrietta Mann (Cheyenne), educator and former president of Cheyenne and Arapaho College

Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne, Hodulgee Muscogee); poet, writer, lecturer, curator and policy advocate

Dave Archambault, II, former Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman

John Echohawk (Pawnee), Executive Director of the  Native American Rights Fund

Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Tradition of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe for the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota peoples, and many others.  Chief Looking Horse discusses White Buffalo Prophecy

LaDonna Harris (Comanche), founder of Americans for Indian Opportunity  (AIO)

William Gollnick (Oneida Nation of Wisconsin), former Tribal Chief of Staff and General Manager, two-time US Presidential appointee in service to Indian Education

Gerard Baker (Mandan, Hidatsa), former Superintendent of Mt. Rushmore National Memorial and Little Bighorn National Battlefield, and most recently, interim executive director of the  Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation

As part of their regular coursework, students learn from films, artwork, scholarship, music, and literature produced by Native people and read Native news publications and tribal websites. Through classes and other opportunities facilitated by our program’s faculty, students have traveled to visit and study in diverse indigenous communities such as  the Navajo Nation, the  Eastern Band of Cherokee, the Native Village of Tuntutuliak, Alaska, the Yankton Sioux Reservation,  Pine Ridge (Oglala Sioux) ReservationAgua Caliente Band of Cahuilla IndiansPueblo of Acoma, the  San Carlos Apache Reservation and Native Hawaiian communities on the island of Kaua`i. We have been honored with classroom presentations by lecturers from diverse tribal backgrounds, including: Blood Tribe, Wiyot, Mandan, Hidatsa, Choctaw, Apache, Lakota, Eastern Band of Cherokee, Cheyenne, Monacan, Shawnee, Seneca, Seneca-Cayuga, Onondaga, Wampanoag, Pascua Yaqui, Navajo, Hopi, Oneida, Ojibwe, Lumbee, Salish, Isleta Pueblo, Yup'ik, Chickasaw, Luiseno Band of Mission Indians, Delaware, Mohawk, Huron, Tuscarora, Modoc, Mohegan, Hodulgee Muscogee, Chippewa, Comanche, Inuk, Alutiiq, Pawnee, Yuchi, and so on.

In addition, faculty and students attend and participate in Native American cultural events in the region and beyond, enriching their cultural awareness and appreciation. NAS activities allow students to learn about and visit important nearby sites such as the  Grave Creek Mound Archaeology Complex in Moundsville, West Virginia, the  Meadowcroft Rockshelter near Avella, Pennsylvania, home to artifacts dating back 16,000 years, the  Alcoa Foundation Hall of American Indians at Pittsburgh’s  Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Ohio’s Great Serpent Mound, the  Newark, Ohio Earthworks complex, and  Ft. Necessity National Battlefield, among others.

Our program has been represented at such important gatherings as the annual convention of the  National Congress of American Indians, the American Indian Studies Consortium, the conferences of the  American Indian Studies Association, the  Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Conference, and the  Native American Literature SymposiumUSET-United South and Eastern Tribes meetings, as well as the 2004 grand opening ceremonies for the  Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.