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We are publishing our press release dated July 11, 2022 that provides detailed information about our plans and our media platform, including our Journal. our main focus has always been to restore the Haldimand Tract to its rightful owners. We have already begun this process and we are now ready to announce it. Read Press Release

Unraveling the True Meaning and Impact of Land Acknowledgments


Land acknowledgments have surged in popularity in recent years as a way for organizations and individuals to recognize and honor the traditional indigenous territories upon which they reside. These acknowledgments can take various forms, from verbal statements to written declarations, and they aim to provide an honest and historically accurate representation of a place's indigenous heritage. However, beneath the surface of this seemingly noble practice lies a complex web of historical negationism, erasure, and potential harm. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of land acknowledgments, exploring their origins, intentions, and the controversies that surround them.

Understanding the Historical Context

To comprehend the significance of land acknowledgments, it is crucial to grasp the historical context in which they emerged. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples' final report in 1996 and the subsequent Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's report in 2017 shed light on the unjust treatment of indigenous peoples in Canada. These reports highlighted the illegitimacy of the Canadian government and the need for reconciliation and restitution.

Inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's recommendations, land acknowledgments were embraced as an initial step toward recognizing the original inhabitants of a place and respecting their deep connection to the land. They aimed to counteract the harmful effects of colonization and foster awareness and understanding of indigenous kinship beliefs.

The Evolution of Land Acknowledgments

As land acknowledgments gained traction, organizations began incorporating them into various aspects of their operations, such as events, email signatures, videos, and syllabuses. Pronunciation guides and video examples were provided to facilitate the implementation of these acknowledgments. Some organizations even collaborated with indigenous communities to ensure accuracy and inclusivity.

However, despite these efforts, many contemporary land acknowledgments inadvertently perpetuate false ideas about the history of dispossession and the ongoing realities of colonization. Such misrepresentations can harm indigenous peoples and impede their cultural resurgence. It is essential to critically examine the content and intent of these acknowledgments to prevent further harm and promote genuine reconciliation.

The Pitfalls of Inaccurate Acknowledgments

One of the key issues with land acknowledgments lies in their failure to address the root causes of trauma resulting from colonial domination, alien occupation, racist regimes, land dispossession, and the deprivation of economic and social rights. While some acknowledgments may demonstrate a basic understanding of these issues, true reconciliation requires a sincere and unqualified apology. Missteps in acknowledgments can lead to unintended harm, exclusion, and the perpetuation of systemic prejudice.

Defamation and the Power of Words

Defamation, the act of damaging someone's reputation through false statements, is a legal concern that arises in the context of land acknowledgments. It is important to understand the elements of defamation and the potential consequences of making false or harmful statements. To prove defamation, a plaintiff must demonstrate a false statement presented as fact, the communication of that statement to a third party, negligence or fault, and resulting damages or financial loss.

While certain defenses exist, such as statements made only to the person they are about, absolute privilege in court or parliament, qualified privilege for non-malicious statements, fair comment, and responsible communication of matters of public interest, the truth remains the strongest defense against defamation claims. However, proving the truth can be challenging and costly.

Apology vs. Confession: Navigating the Fine Line

Apologies play a significant role in various legal systems and interpersonal relationships. In the context of land acknowledgments, some individuals perceive them as confessions or admissions of guilt, while others view them as necessary steps toward reconciliation. Understanding the distinction between an apology and a confession is essential.

Apologies express remorse or regret for harm caused, while confessions openly admit to having done something wrong. The legal implications of apologies can vary, influencing sentencing decisions in criminal cases and the extent of damages in civil lawsuits. However, apologies can also be seen as admissions of liability, potentially voiding insurance coverage or triggering professional disciplinary actions.

The Impact of Land Acknowledgments on Indigenous Identity

Land acknowledgments have far-reaching implications for indigenous peoples' identity, culture, and history. Unfortunately, many acknowledgments perpetuate insular conceptions of national identity, culture, and history, erasing or marginalizing the voices and experiences of the indigenous communities who were forcibly dispossessed of their land and deprived of their inherent wealth.

Through extensive research, it becomes evident that the Mohawk Nation, specifically the Grand River Mohawks, have been subjected to arbitrary deprivation of national identity, influences, legal distinction, and historical prominence. The erasure of the Mohawk Nation from land acknowledgments reflects a systematic bias that perpetuates historical negationism and undermines the prospects of reemerging nations.

Unveiling the Truth: Examining Inaccurate Land Acknowledgments

A comprehensive study conducted by Grand Back, a division of Mohawk University, analyzed numerous land acknowledgments related to the Haldimand Tract. The study revealed a startling lack of accuracy and verifiability in these acknowledgments, with a significant discrepancy in mentioning the Mohawk Nation.

The research encompassed various sectors, including chapels, universities, municipalities, businesses, and governmental bodies. Despite some initial consultation, the final policies often distorted historical facts, replacing "Mohawk" with "Six Nations" and perpetuating the erasure of the Grand River Mohawks' rightful place in history.

The Controversies Surrounding Land Acknowledgments

While land acknowledgments were initially intended as a way to honor indigenous heritage and foster reconciliation, they have become mired in controversy. Some critics argue that acknowledgments can become tools of erasure, validating Canadian or settler presence while obscuring indigenous power and politics. The control of legitimate debate and limitations on free speech have been observed in certain contexts, raising concerns about the genuine intent and impact of land acknowledgments.

Moving Towards Genuine Reconciliation

As the practice of land acknowledgments continues to evolve, it is crucial to move beyond mere words and take meaningful action towards genuine reconciliation. Land acknowledgments should serve as catalysts for learning, self-reflection, and building relationships with indigenous communities. Understanding the truths and histories, addressing systemic biases, and working towards restitution and justice are fundamental to the reconciliation process.


Land acknowledgments hold the potential to foster awareness, understanding, and reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. However, their true impact lies in the actions that follow these acknowledgments, not just the words themselves. It is imperative to recognize the complexities, historical context, and potential pitfalls associated with land acknowledgments. By striving for accuracy, inclusivity, and genuine reconciliation, we can move closer to healing the wounds of the past and forging a more equitable future for all.

By Benjamin Doolittle UE · July 26, 2023 · Comments: 0 · RSS · Permalink

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