NEA Big Read Phoenix: Indigenous Land Acknowledgments

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Join Dr. David Martinez, Dr. Felicia Mitchell, and Librarian Alex Soto for a conversation on the ethics and impacts of land acknowledgments

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Shawanobinesiik, Elizabeth, Southern Thunderbird. Adik, Michael, Caribou. Kwingwa'aage, Joseph, Wilverine. Mashiki, Mary, The Medicine. Ombaashi, Albert, Lifted By Wind. Makoons, The Bearling, and Bird Shaking Ice Off Its Wings. They lived and died too quickly in those years that surrounded the making of the reservation, died before they could be recorded and in such painful numbers that it was hard to remember them all without uttering, as my father did sometimes as he read local history, and the white man appeared and drove them down into the earth, which sounded like an Old Testament prophecy but was just an observation of the truth. And so to be afraid of entering the cemetery by night was to fear not the loving ancestors who lay buried, but the gut kick of our history, which I was bracing to absorb.

—From The Round House by Louise Erdrich (p. 100)

All land is indigenous land. Over the last several years, more and more universities, museums, and other institutions from all over the world have issued statements of land acknowledgment honoring an area's deep histories, original stewards, and current Indigenous residents and communities.

While these acknowledgments are important, they're only a first step. join Dr. Felicia Mitchell, Dr. David Martinez, and ASU Librarian Alexander Soto for Where We Stand: a conversation on the ethics and impacts of Indigenous land acknowledgments on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Phoenix MST on Zoom.

Drawing on their experiences creating statements for larger institutions, panelists will share why these acknowledgements are necessary, what they mean, and how they can be used to open larger conversations about colonial power and history within the community. Panelists will also share concrete tips and suggestions for creating a land acknowledgment and how they can create change within organizations.

This event will be live-streamed and recorded, and is open to the public and free.

Looking for more events? Talk about decolonization with Dr. Amanda R. Tachine on March 4, remember the Phoenix Indian School with Rosalie and Patty Talahongva on March 6, or view the full schedule for the NEA Big Read today at

About our Partners

David Martinez (Akimel O'odham/Hia Ced O'odham/Mexican) is an associate professor of American Indian Studies and the author of Dakota Philosopher: Charles Eastman and American Indian Thought (Minnesota Historical Society Press 2009), editor of The American Indian Intellectual Tradition: An Anthology of Writings from 1772 to 1972 (Cornell University Press 2011), and author of Life of the Indigenous Mind: Vine Deloria Jr and the Birth of the Red Power Movement (University of Nebraska Press 2019).

Felicia Mitchell is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at ASU. She is committed to social justice for all people and advocates for the advancement of health equity in communities of color. Her research focuses on social and environmental determinants of health and their impact on Indigenous health and well-being. Mitchell's work also focuses on advancing social work education through critical reflection and engagement to dismantle settler-colonial standards in academia.

Alex Soto (Tohono O’odham) is the curator/librarian for the Labriola National American Indian Data Center at Arizona State University (ASU) Library. In addition to providing culturally informed library support, he facilitates ASU’s community-driven archives initiative in tribal communities. He believes Indigenous librarianship helps support cultural sovereignty and fosters Indigenous modernity.

About the NEA Big Read: Phoenix

This event is presented as part of the NEA Big Read: Phoenix, celebrating Indigenous literary arts and culture in the Valley with over 25 talks, workshops, performances, book clubs, art exhibits other virtual events inspired by The Round House by Louise Erdrich. The NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. The NEA Big Read: Phoenix is presented by the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University with additional support from Arizona Humanities, Phoenix Public Library, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Humanities Division at ASU. Find events, meet our partners, and start reading today at

Support Indigenous Communities

The Phoenix Indian Center is the oldest American Indian non-profit organization of its kind in the United States, providing workforce development, cultural enrichment, and other vital services to Indigenous communities throughout the Valley for over 70 years. To support their work, visit their website at, click the donate button, enter an amount, and enter "NEA Big Read" in the description. Please consider making a gift to the Phoenix Indian Center today.

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