Statement from OSU Native/Indigenous student organization on land acknowledgements and engagement with Indigenous communities at OSU

(Shared with permission from NAIPC members)

November 12, 2021 

A Direct Statement from the Indigenous students of the Native American and Indigenous Peoples Cohort (NAIPC) 

The Ohio State University is the third largest land grant university, and its relationship with Indigenous faculty, staff, and students should reflect this university’s high standards. We have yet to truly see this high standard. 

There is a necessity for collaboration with the University’s Indigenous body to go beyond the performance of land acknowledgements. Land acknowledgements are reductive of the complicated history and relationship Indigenous people have with the land, and they are passive actions which do not fully acknowledge the ongoing neglect of Indigenous people within institutions such as OSU. 

In order for land acknowledgements to truly be purposeful, they must have action attached. Land acknowledgements must be followed by sincere and informed actions of reconciliation. But no action can be considered sincere or informed without Indigenous voices being at the forefront. 

Indigenous students, staff, and faculty must be prioritized in any attempts at action beyond land acknowledgements. This means that OSU must consult and seek direction from Indigenous students, staff, and faculty in all matters concerning Indigenous issues and advocacy. We require free and prior informed consent on any such attempts at advocacy. Data from The Ohio State University’s OSAS – Analysis and Reporting 2021 Trend Tables reveals that, in just 10 years, the number of enrolled American Indian/Alaska Native students at OSU has decreased 71%: from 169 to 49 total Indigenous students at The Ohio State University, across all campuses. This is not correlated to any recent national decrease in Indigenous populations. This is solely institutional neglect which affirms a false narrative of Native extinction. Greater consideration must be made to ensure that current and prospective Native students feel they have a place at OSU. If a deliberate effort is not made to seek out and understand the needs of Native students, staff, and faculty, then we are effectively erased from the spaces we participate in, and we become invisible even in attempts by the University to “save” us. 

The Indigenous students of NAIPC call upon The Ohio State University, its non-Native students, staff, and faculty, to oppose the continued acts of genocide against Native peoples which contribute to our erasure. This requires action beyond land acknowledgements. This requires relinquishing determination of Native futures to the Native people themselves. Supporting Indigenous voices and community is only possible when Indigenous autonomy is respected. ​

Any attempts at University reconciliation that do not prioritize the self-determination of NAIPC students, Indigenous staff, and Indigenous faculty, will not truly be supportive of the Indigenous student body, and therefore will not be supported by NAIPC students. 

Nothing about us without us. 

Wopila, Mvto, Maltyox, Hay Hay, Miigwech, ᏩᏙ,

The Native American and Indigenous Peoples Cohort