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land acknowledgment guide and toolkit

business writing of toolkit + discussion guide


  1. 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 tool to help each health council create an actionable land acknowledgment.

  2. 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, I developed the toolkit so it would be accessible and easily utilized by any of the councils (or their partners), regardless of their resources. This tool can be used with or without a facilitator, the participants can have in-person groups sessions or utilize an on-line discussion forum, and those discussions can happen 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.

I found that the main issues with land acknowledgment statements are:

  1. They are performative and lack meaning.

  2. They lack follow through.

  3. They can perpetuate stereotypes or spread false info.

And, the main issues I found with the easily accessible guides and toolkits are:

  1. Most are written to a small, very specific audience and in such a way that it is more difficult for other groups to utelize the tool.

  2. They all listed the same exact ideas to include in a land acknowledgment statement and described them in the same way. No one provided clarifiying info to make the concept easier to understand.

  3. There was one particular land acknowledgment guide + toolkit that downloaded + referenced the most often. This guide provided minimal information and the toolkit was limited to a few example land acknowledgments and some graphics that were branded for that organization (so not easily used by other organizations.)

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 undeniable call-to-action. This statement was written by faculty members and a university who 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 I created have corresponding sections. Each section in the Guide introduces one core concept for how to create a land acknowledgment statement and includes supporting stastics. Each section of the Toolkit provides multiple examples, a wealth of resources and tools, and questions to guide discussion.

writing styles

The Guide and Toolkit required many 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 the council members of their obligations.

  • The first section starts with a description of the relationship New Mexicans have with the land so uses metaphors and 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.

Land Acknowledgment Toolkit on Website Design Portfolio

Download the Land Acknowledgment Guide PDF

Download PDF • 1.27MB


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


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