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University of Washington Prof Under Fire for Problematic Position on Land Acknowledgement Statement

University of Washington Prof Under Fire for Problematic Position on Land Acknowledgement Statement

“Obviously their version of diversity does not include conservative viewpoints.”

Land acknowledgement is one of the hot new trends in wokeland. Deviating from this is not allowed.

From the FIRE blog:

University of Washington: Professor created ‘toxic environment’ by deviating from university-approved language about Native American land

If professors at the University of Washington want to include a statement of land acknowledgment on their syllabi, they must parrot the administration’s viewpoint or shut up.

It has become increasingly common in academia to promote statements that formally recognize indigenous ties to the land occupied by a university, but the UW Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering encourages professors to include a land acknowledgement on their syllabi at the expense of their First Amendment rights.

Professor Stuart Reges learned this the hard way when a land acknowledgement on his syllabus was censored by administrators because it didn’t match a university-approved statement. Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education called on UW to ensure that faculty, if they choose to address this topic in their syllabi, can use the university’s statement or craft their own.

“UW pays lip service to inclusivity, but censorship is incompatible with inclusivity,” said FIRE Program Officer Zach Greenberg, who wrote today’s letter to UW. “UW needs to re-evaluate its list of ‘best practices for inclusive courses’ in light of its tolerance for viewpoint discrimination.”

On the list, the Allen School includes an “Indigenous Land Acknowledgement” statement. The list notes that the provided statement is “an example,” suggesting that the university intends it to be a starting point that can be adapted, not a rigid take-it-or-leave-it statement. The fact that the statement could be adapted seemed clear – until a professor wrote one that administrators didn’t like.

On Dec. 8, Reges criticized land acknowledgment statements in an email to faculty and included a modified statement he put in his syllabus: “I acknowledge that by the labor theory of property the Coast Salish people can claim historical ownership of almost none of the land currently occupied by the University of Washington.” Reges’s statement was a nod to Locke’s philosophical theory that property rights are established by improving land.

“I decided to see whether it was acceptable to present an alternate viewpoint,” said Reges. “Obviously their version of diversity does not include conservative viewpoints.”


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These land use statements imply that the land was stolen or otherwise ill-gotten from the Indians. In the case of the land on which the University of Washington sits in Seattle, this is factually incorrect.

Governor Isaac Stevens negotiated a whole slew of similar treaties with various Indians of the Washington Territories in the 1850s. Specific to that land on which the University of Washington in Seattle is sited is the 1855 treaty of Point Elliot. This treaty includes the statement: “The said tribes and bands of Indians hereby cede, relinquish, and convey to the United States all their right, title, and interest in and to the lands and country occupied by them, bounded and described as follows: ” The bounds then describe a huge area of land in Western Washington bounded by the Cascades to the east, Canada to the North, Puget Sound to the West, and an arbitrary line well south of Seattle. This land was paid for in Article 6: “In consideration of the above cession, the United States agree to pay to the said tribes and bands the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars…”.

Interesting, and of course seldom or never mentioned is the remarkable eleventh article which states: “The said tribes and bands agree to free all slaves now held by them and not to purchase or acquire others hereafter. ” All of this 10 years prior to the 13th Amendment.

This treaty was clearly the work of a very energetic but conscientious governor who wanted to purchase and ensure clear claim to territory from the local Indians avoiding terrible wars. Governor Stevens drafted these treaties from template treaty articles developed over the previous decades of treaty making with Indians. This is not an isolated instance.

It would be interesting to see if the University would accept a factual statement on the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot land purchase in lieu of the standard misleading land use statement. Who knows. Learning might happen.

I use a more accurate land acknowledgment statement:

This College occupies a place that was originally the home of dozens of large mammals such as the mammoth, the mastodon, three species of camels, the glyptodon, the giant beaver, the short-faced bear, the dire wolf, the American cheetah, the ground sloth, the giant sloth, and the American horse. These animals were slaughtered to extinction by raiding groups of Asian immigrants who occupied North America. We honor the memory of the many species that would be here if they had not gone extinct to provide food and clothing for our predecessors.

Land acknowledgments are the penultimate in hollow virtue signaling.

They do absolutely zero for anybody deemed “harmed” by the current property rights of the land owners. They are just there to signal and pander needlessly like most of what the left does.

    artichoke in reply to healthguyfsu. | January 12, 2022 at 5:58 pm

    Maybe not so hollow. There was an effort a couple years ago, around the time of CHAZ in Seattle, to enforce land acknowledgements. “OK you acknowledge my ownership, now I am going to assert property rights against you.” The purveyors of this want us to THINK it’s hollow, until they turn to enforcement.

    I wouldn’t “acknowledge” someone else having rights to my property. If I’m a college employee and they tell me to do it, I suppose I would do it because it’s not mine anyway and so I don’t really care.

I developed a Land Acknowledgment Statement of my own.

“I acknowledge that I bought this land and the structures thereon from the prior owner for an agreed upon sum of money (U.S. currency). That former owner in turn had purchased the land and structures from the developer, who subdivide the land and built a tract of houses. If you take issue with my ownership and possession of the land and structure, talk to my shotgun.”

I like that prof.

Business school seem to be standing strongest (0r the only ones standing at all) against wokeness. STEM is full of nerds without the interpersonal guts to do something like that, and/or maybe STEM bosses are authoritarians and the consequences would be too great within those units.

I am standing on land that was occupied by people who failed to enforce their borders against massive immigration.

How about “This University sits upon the land and benefits from the wealth brought to it from the Microsoft tribe of computer scientists. In turn Microsoft extracted its economic rents from the personal computer. Most notably Microsoft sold IBM an operating system that was in fact developed by another company. Finally we acknowledge that the Apple tribe in Cupertino did more than Microsoft in pioneering the personal computer market. To the extent that the history behind the wealth that makes this Computer Science department possible has many twists and turns, we apologize for our lack of moral clarity and mathematical precision.”