An Intentional Approach to Land Acknowledgment

We believe that acknowledging the lands we are on, the Peoples who call them home, and the principles of Tribal sovereignty and self-determination are a necessary first step in that process.

Written by: Saraya Hamidi, Indigenous Partnerships Manager

Since joining Blue Forest, my role as Indigenous Partnerships Manager has been primarily centered around exploring and identifying how we, as a nonprofit, can build meaningful relationships with Native Nations across the regions where we work. I believe that acknowledging the lands we are on, the Peoples who call them home, and the principles of Tribal sovereignty and self-determination are a necessary first step in that process.

As an Indigenous person myself, and more specifically a member of the Cherokee Nation, I approached this task with caution. I understand how land acknowledgments can be ineffective, uncomfortable, or at times, harmful. To me, a land acknowledgment, void of action, commitment, or connection, feels worse than no land acknowledgment at all. With that understanding, we set out to collaboratively draft a land acknowledgment with insight and input from local governments and community leaders that humbly acknowledges where we sit in the context of this landscape and affirms our values related to engaging with Native Nations.

As an organization with projects defined by places and the people living and working in them, drafting a land acknowledgment seemed like a natural way to set these intentions. The Forest Resilience Bond process is centered around learning about a landscape, how it has been stewarded, and the local community’s relationship to it. Our role is to provide the project development support and financing to enable that community’s vision for land stewardship to be implemented. Just as with our general project development process, we aimed to approach this process in a way that centers listening to and learning from local communities.

We crafted a land acknowledgment that acknowledges the history of the land Blue Forest is based out of and recognizes and honors Indigenous Peoples as its original stewards and owners*; defines our core values pertaining to Tribal engagement; and includes a commitment and plan to support the Native Nations we are acknowledging. We also detail the beginnings of our plan of action to ensure that we are financing projects supported by local Indigenous communities. As many of the landscapes we serve are on national forest lands, which are the traditional, ancestral, and contemporary homelands of Indigenous Peoples, this has included implementing a project development framework to ensure adequate and meaningful engagement with Native Nations. Outside of our existing projects, we are also currently exploring how we can most impactfully support Indigenous land management and reclamation.

We were fortunate to connect with a broad range of local leaders and governments who reviewed the statement throughout its development, providing direction, input, and edits to ensure it shared the truth of the lands now called Sacramento and the Peoples who have called it home since time immemorial.

We extend our sincerest gratitude to the local government representatives and leaders, as well as thought partners, experts, mentors, and friends, who provided guidance throughout this creation process. We encourage you to learn more about their work and their organizations and government bodies at the links below:

We invite you to read our official land acknowledgment and learn more about the lands and Peoples of what we now know as Sacramento, CA.

*We recognize that “owning” land is an imperfect term to illustrate the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and their land. What we intend to recognize is that this land belongs to Indigenous Peoples and that systems of property ownership existed before land was stolen by and ceded to settlers.