land acknowledgment guide and toolkit
business writing of toolkit + discussion guide
This Land Acknowledgement Guide and the corresponding Toolkit were designed as tools to help the New Mexico Tribal and County Health Councils as they work on action plans, forge new partnerships, and create health initiatives. It needed to be a resource for creating an actionable Land Acknowledgment
The online Land Acknowledgment Toolkit was developed with Community-Based Participatory Research as the framework. Because the Health Councils had varying levels of engagement and available resources, it could be utelized with or without a facilitator, with participants having in-person sessions or utelizing an on-line forum, and in one day or broken up over several days or weeks.
Knowing there were many organizations across the country that had created land acknowledgment guides, I started by researching things such as the types of organizations that wrote guides + toolkits, what they did well/poorly, identify the gaps, etc.
What I learned the main issues with land acknowledgment statements are:
They are performative and lack meaning.
They lack follow through.
They can perpetuate stereotypes or spread false info.
And, the issues with the guides and toolkits that are accessible to the general public are:
Many are written to a narrow audience in a way that makes it difficuklt to apply to other situations (such as a specific department at a specific univiersity)
They all listed the same points to include in a statement and described them in the same way.
The guide + toolkit that was downloaded + referenced the most often did not give examples or other ways to help the readers understanding andf the toolkit was klimited to example land acknowledgments and some graphics.
I read close to 100 land acknowledgment statements and I only found one that effectively addressed all of the issues people have with land acknowledgments. It used clear, decisive, and factual language, showed the authors have a personal and real connection to the statement, and included an undenial call to action. This statement was written by faculty members wgo knew what to say and how to say it.
If we expect land acknowledgments to be expressed a specific way, then we must provide the resources to make that possible.
The Guide & Toolkit have corresponding sections. Each section in the Guide introduces the idea along with supporting stastics. Each section of the Toolkit provides examples, resources, tools, questions to guide discussion, etc. to help the councils through the process of understanding the idea and how they will use it or incorporate it into their current action plans.
The Guide and Toolkit required aa variety of different writing styles, depending on the topic, who would be reading it, and how that content would be used. For example:
The introduction was signed by the Executive Director, so the language needed to be inspiring while also reminding them of obligations.
The first section starts with a description of the relationship New Mexicans have with the land so uses metaphors anmd descriptive language meant to make the reader have an emotional response.
The language that would be the common contextural reference used by all participants needed to be direct, clear, and fact based.
Download the Land Acknowledgment Guide PDF
all content in guide & toolkit
pdf's graphics + layout, photo library, UX website design, maps + other graphics
research / planning
U.S. & NM history & legislation; Spanish laws & land grants; boarding schools; tribal languages & cultures; relationships among tribes; each tribe's unique experience of colonization; global impact of colonization; current statistics; effective programs; history of land acknowledgments; and more