Office of Diversity & Inclusion Announces a New Land Acknowledgement Statement

By Sophie Lange, News Editor

On Friday, Gettysburg College Chief Diversity Officer Eloísa Gordon Mora sent a campus-wide email alerting the college community that the Land Acknowledgement Committee updated the official Land Acknowledgement Statement.

The original statement was written after a listening session was held with several Indigenous community organizations, including organizations in Lancaster, PA, where the massacre of the Conestoga Nation occurred, and Carlisle, PA, where the Indian Industrial School was established. The college held a Land Acknowledgement Ceremony where they planted a White Pine, symbolic of peace, outside Penn Hall. A plaque was later dedicated on the path between the Alumni House and Schmucker Hall in Spring 2024. 

Mora explained that the purpose of the Land Acknowledgement Statement was to “recognize that Indigenous peoples stewarded the land prior to and through European colonialism and were often unjustly removed from the land by systematic processes of displacement by European powers, colonists, and later, American settlers and settler-colonialism. In this way, land acknowledgements serve to unsettle settler-colonialism, shine light on historical erasure, and promote action.”

The revised statement is: “Gettysburg College recognizes the connections Indigenous Peoples have to this land and acknowledges the impact of settler colonialism. We will honor Indigenous pasts and presents to ensure vibrant futures. We commit to deepen our relationships with the land and the human and other relatives with whom it is shared.”

Mora encouraged the use of the new version in syllabi, on email signatures and at events. 

The process of the revision involved discussions with the Land Acknowledgement Committee, students, staff and alumni, all of whom either identified as Indigenous or had expertise in Indigenous studies. The Committee also had a conversation about the revisions with Gettysburg College President Bob Iuliano and the President’s Council, who later approved the statement. The revised statement was crafted to place a greater focus on Gettysburg instead of Pennsylvania as a whole, call community members to confront historical problems and bring about a brighter future, focus on Indigenous values and allow the statement to be easily spoken.

Mora concluded by thanking the following individuals for their work on updating  the statement: 

  • Land Acknowledgement Committee  Coordinator and Professor of Environmental Studies Salma Monani.
  • Land Acknowledgement Committee Coordinator and Associate Professor of Religious Studies David Walsh.
  • Assistant Dean and Director of Scholarly Communications Janelle Wertzberger. 
  • Incoming Land Acknowledgement Committee Coordinator and Director of the Center for Public Service Jeff Rioux.
  • Incoming Land Acknowledgment Committee Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Anthropology Kirby Farah.

Community members can look for updates on the Gettysburg College Land Acknowledgement website.

Author: Sophie Lange

Sophie Lange is the News Editor for The Gettysburgian. Previously, she served as a Staff Writer for the News section. Sophie is an Environmental Studies, Spanish and Public Policy triple major from northern Maryland. On campus, she is a research assistant for the Environmental Studies Department and a member of the Interfaith Council. In her free time, Sophie enjoys spending time outdoors and writing.

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3 Comments

  1. I look forward to this committee’s future praxis – given that the individuals who worked on the statement all derive their income from this occupying institution, perhaps they can donate 50% or more of their salaries as a form of reparations? They might not be as financially comfortable afterwards, but that is a small price for justice, and one that I am willing to pay.

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  2. Happy to see that the college is focusing on what matters. More platitudes and stale liberal gestures will surely save the college’s reputation. What’s the acceptance rate now? 56%? Keep it up Gettysburg.

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  3. I for one am excited that the school is trying to make a new statement. I’m a bit disappointed that they chose to do this behind closed doors however. This should be a democratic process amongst students, faculty, and alumni if it is going to carry any weight. Perhaps a working group could be formed? I hope they will convene this group soon and perhaps we could have an even better statement in the next few years. You can’t rush these things!

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