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Native and Indigenous Commitments

Pima Community College supports and celebrates its relationship with all tribal, Alaskan native, and indigenous peoples. Pima Community College sits on the indigenous lands of the Tohono O’odham peoples and the extended homeland of the Pascua Yaqui peoples. Pima Community College also supports students who attend from all 22 federally recognized native nations in Arizona, as well as the 574 federally recognized native nations in the United States. Indigenous populations exist throughout the world and Pima Community College has the potential to serve any of them.

As such Pima Community College has committed itself to providing service and education that celebrates indigenous cultures and stewardship while also recognizing the history of displacement and dispossession. For example, the Tohono O’odham Nation is the second largest reservation in Arizona, allocated in the south central to western part of the state, down to the Mexico border. The Pascua Yaqui, whose traditional homelands are along the Yaqui River in Mexico, fled to South Arizona to escape genocide and slavery by the Mexican government. From this commitment Pima Community College acknowledges, celebrates, and affirms the lands we are on the sovereignty of the various native nations.

Land and Labor Acknowledgements and Commitment to Action

Native Land Acknowledgement

Pima Community College is on the original homelands of the Tohono O’odham People and the extended homelands of the Pascua Yaqui Tribes. Additionally, Pima Community College has students, employees, and members of the community from many of the tribal and indigenous groups within the United States and worldwide. We honor and pay respect to these persons, past, present, and future who have and will continue to nurture, sustain, and steward these lands.

The practice of acknowledging the land of these sovereign Nations brings to the forefront their enduring connection to this land regardless of historical and current colonization practices. Let’s acknowledge that we all benefit from these lands on which we work and learn. We encourage everyone to learn about the land we inhabit, the tribal communities connected to this land and the ways in which each individual can contribute to restorative practices related to land and community.The practice of acknowledging the land of these sovereign Nations brings to the forefront their enduring connection to this land regardless of historical and current colonization practices.

We acknowledge the benefit we have received from these lands on which we work and learn. Pima Community College encourages each member of our community to learn about the land we inhabit, the tribal communities connected to this land and the ways in which we can contribute to restorative practices related to land and community. We continue to invest in our commitment through our partnerships with tribal and indigenous organizations, by including the native voice in our strategic and operational initiatives, and by working with the Pascua Yaqui and Tohono O’odham Tribal Council to invest in educational opportunities and initiatives.

Labor and Slavery Acknowledgement

We recognize and acknowledge that the very foundation of the United States of America was built on the free and forced labor of Black people of the African Diaspora, on the backs of immigrants and refugees, and those indigenous to this land. This labor has contributed to the essential foundations, wealth, and success of this country.

This foundation has generational and exponential effects that continue to negatively impact Black, brown, and marginalized communities today and remain uncompensated. The historical and contemporary contributions of the Black diaspora and of the immigrant and refugee populations, continue to shape American culture and benefit all inhabitants of this land.

As the current stewards of this space, it is our collective responsibility to hold these truths, to work together to dismantle and disrupt oppressive systems that continue through today. We acknowledge and strive to move beyond the hierarchy that continues to marginalize and oppress, and instead embrace a system in which all persons' voices are celebrated, their expressions of self respected, and their stories uplifted.

We honor the sacrifice, work, and lives of those that were enslaved, forced, and continue to experience oppression. We strive to celebrate their contributions, reveal and educate their history, and commit to equity and equality to all persons.

Labor and Land Acknowledgement for Public Use

The following is a combined version of the labor and land acknowledgement to ground us through reflection, to inspire us through celebration, and to commit us to action. This should be used as part of events throughout Pima Community College and is usable by employees in their work.

We recognize we are on the unceded lands of the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui people who have been ongoing stewards of these lands. We honor their love and commitment to these lands and strive to continue that work.

We honor the enslaved people, immigrants, refugees, and others who built the wealth and foundation of the United States.

We acknowledge the benefit we have received from these lands and the labor of our ancestors. Pima Community College encourages each member of our community to learn about the land we inhabit, the tribal communities connected to this land and the ways in which we can contribute to restorative practices related to land and community.

You may add the following:

Let us recognize the histories of Arizona and the United States as complicit with the racism and disenfranchisement of colonialism. We recognize that these difficult histories persist in present-day realities and privileges at this college.

We commit to dismantling racism in spaces of our work.

We commit to educate our communities about this history and cultures.

We invite you to work beside us to create change.

You may also engage in further reflection (either recognize the gathering or ask people to form a circle):

Circles and gatherings create inherent recognition because we are forced to witness each other. It comes from a variety of traditional practices including those of indigenous peoples.

In this gathering we come together as members of this community from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, and experiences to share in the ownership of our community and commitment. Together we acknowledge the systems of oppression and violence. We recognize we are the means to dismantle them and reestablish wellness, civility, and care for others. We are the stewards of this land, this history, and this community. Together we can build conditions of belonging and connection.

This circle represents our connection, commitment, and hope for a caring, equitable, and peaceful world.

Pima Community College Commitment to Land and Labor Action

As part of its ongoing and deepening efforts to go beyond land acknowledgments, Pima Community College has engaged in a variety of initiatives that focus on indigenous people, immigrants and refugees, and various cultural identities. It continues to expand and grow in its commitment. If you are interested in helping in this area please contact the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Some of the activities include, but are not limited too:

  • A partnership with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe that provides a variety of educational services
  • The establishment of Tohono O’odham Community College and ongoing support on various projects and initiatives
  • The Ethnic Gender and Transborder Studies program was created that includes Mexican, black, LGBTQIA+, gender, native and tribal curriculum.
  • The use of the PRIDE index to improve services and create safe and welcoming environments for LGBTQIA+ students and employees.
  • Investment in Accessibility, Safety, and Wellness resources so all persons within the College Community have access and opportunities as well as supporting health and safety.

What is a Land and Labor Acknowledgement and Why Go Beyond?

What is a Land Acknowledgment?

Traditionally, a land acknowledgment is a custom that dates back centuries in many Native Nations and communities as a way to both honor the stewardship of the land and recognize the people whose land they were on. Today, land acknowledgments are used by Native Peoples and non-Natives to honor the Indigenous Peoples who are the original stewards of the lands on which we now live, as well as to recognize the displacement and dissociation that has historically occurred. Land acknowledgments do not exist in a past tense, or historical context: colonialism is a current ongoing process, and we need to build our mindfulness of our present participation.

What is a Labor Acknowledgment?

Labor acknowledgements have been developed to acknowledge the history of colonialism, slavery, and immigration that have laid the foundation of the United States. They are derived from the land acknowledgement concept as a way to educate and honor the sacrifices, oppression, and ongoing struggles of the black, brown, and other groups that have been enslaved, used as free and forced labor, and continue to live with the costs from those systems. Like land acknowledgments, labor acknowledgements are not just about the past but also a commitment to improve and overcome the oppressive systems that still exist today.

Why and how does Pima Community College acknowledge the land and labor?

Pima Community College’s history and mission include equity, social justice, diversity, inclusion, and belonging. These principles have been part of the institution since its inception and continue to be found throughout its systems. Like all organizations and people, words are not the work, thus Pima Community College uses these acknowledgements to remind itself and the community of these values, and to promote ongoing commitments to action that improve and change oppressive and racist systems and behaviors.
It shares its land acknowledgment before public events, within important materials, and other important gatherings. It encourages others to also use land and labor acknowledgements. However, it is important to note that acknowledgments must be given with respect, dignity, and a commitment to their intention.

Going Beyond Land and Labor Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements serve two functions, they educate those who experience them about Native lands and its sovereignty as well as the history of slavery and oppression in building the United States. They also honor the sacrifices, experiences, and stewardships of those same peoples and lands.

However, an acknowledgement is not an action. While many of the actions resulting in this historical context occurred in the past, the ramifications are still experienced by Indigenous, Black, Brown, and other peoples today. Organizations and individuals cannot change the past, but we can work to change lingering systems that continue to oppress, embrace bias, and keep individuals from realizing the American dream.
For more information about Going Beyond, land and labor acknowledgements, Native Nations and Indigenous people, and similar topics please see the land and labor resources.

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