Land Acknowledgment

Working Group

In March 2021, President Christina H. Paxson charged a working group with developing recommendations as to how Brown can best acknowledge the land on College Hill connected to local Indigenous peoples and the University.

President’s Charge to the Land Acknowledgment Working Group

Brown University is committed to developing deeper understandings of the past history and relationships between the institution, Indigenous peoples, and the land on which Brown now sits, as well as engaging in deeper relationships in the present and future with local tribes connected to this land. To more fully express this commitment, the Land Acknowledgment Working Group is responsible for developing recommendations for what “land acknowledgment” means for Brown University through consultation with local tribes, beginning with the Narragansett Indian Tribe, with the goal of recognizing and respecting Indigenous peoples and their cultural and historical relationships to the land. The development of this land acknowledgment should arise out of a larger process with all relevant partners, including, but not limited to, local tribes and members of Brown's Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative, and be led by Indigenous-centered protocols.

If this process requires a more robust understanding of the historical connections between Indigenous peoples and the land, the Office of the President will provide support for research assistance. Research would be guided by the developing Tribal Advisory Council and members of the Narragansett Indian Tribe.

Given that careful and comprehensive deliberation is inherent to this process, this working group should produce an interim status report by the end of the academic year and aspire to provide a land acknowledgment recommendation and report to the president by December 31, 2021.

Members of the Working Group

The Land Acknowledgment Working Group comprised the following members:

  • Co-chair: Russell Carey, Executive Vice President for Planning & Policy 
  • Co-chair: Rae Gould, Executive Director, Native American and Indigenous Studies (Nipmuc)
  • Cass Cliatt, Senior Vice President for Communications 
  • Sylvia Carey-Butler, Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity
  • Robert W. Preucel, Professor, Department of Anthropology, and Director, Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology
  • Kimonee Burke, Ph.D. student, Department of History (Narragansett)
  • Sherenté Harris, RISD/Brown undergraduate student (Narragansett)

The working group was staffed by Olugbenga Joseph, Assistant to the President for Special Projects.