Dear Members of the Brown Community,

In March 2021, I announced the formation of a Land Acknowledgement Working Group of staff, students and faculty charged with developing recommendations as to how Brown can best acknowledge the land connected to local Native and Indigenous Peoples on which Brown is situated and our shared history related to these spaces. This work is closely tied to our efforts to create a more fully diverse and inclusive community at Brown.

After nearly a year of purposeful research and outreach and engagement with local Native and Indigenous Peoples, the Working Group shared with me five recommendations regarding specific actions Brown should take to address the dispossession of the land in Providence where Brown’s campus sits, as well as to provide support for broader levels of engagement with Native American and Indigenous studies and educational opportunities for tribal youth. These recommendations, which were informed by conversations with the Narragansett Indian Tribe, were developed with the recognition of the importance of continued dialogue across the Brown community and with local Native and Indigenous Peoples.

I am writing today to invite the Brown community to offer feedback on the recommendations, which are outlined briefly in this letter but detailed more fully in the Working Group’s document posted on the Office of the President website. I would encourage every member of the community to read the historical background developed by the Working Group to provide important context for a proposed land acknowledgement and other recommendations. In sharing the recommended actions, the Working Group expressed that building an understanding of the history of the land and the Indigenous Peoples connected to it, including a critical understanding of the differences in colonial and Indigenous concepts of land use and ownership, formed the essential basis for the proposed actions Brown should take.

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT WORKING GROUP RECOMMENDATIONS

--1.  Establish the University’s official land acknowledgement statement, as well as provide education and guidance for its use.

--2.  Commission and support original scholarship regarding the origins and founding of Brown University and its relationships to the Indigenous peoples in and around what is now southern New England.

--3.  Explore, in partnership with the Narragansett Indian Tribe, how the Brown University campus can effectively honor and memorialize its College Hill location as part of the homeland of the Narragansett people.

--4.  Support educational opportunities and access for youth of the Narragansett Indian Tribe and other tribal youth from New England.

--5.  Further investment in the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative (NAISI) and the Natives at Brown (NAB) student organization.

SUBMITTING COMMENTS AND FEEDBACK

Written comments on the recommendations may be submitted anonymously and will be collected until Monday, March 21, 2022. The recommendations and the feedback form can be found linked below and on the Land Acknowledgement Working Group section of the Office of the President’s website:

https://www.brown.edu/about/administration/president/reports

In addition, I invite community members to engage in discussion and provide additional feedback on the recommendations at the next meeting of the Brown University Community Council. The meeting will take place virtually Wednesday, April 13, at 4 p.m.

I want to thank the working group, chaired by Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey and Executive Director of the University’s Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative Rae Gould — and including Native students who devoted their time and invaluable perspectives — for their efforts over the past 12 months, including gaining the important support of the Narragansett Tribe for the recommendations we’ll explore as a Brown community.

I look forward to your contributions to this important conversation, which will help inform Brown’s approach to land acknowledgement, education, scholarship and partnership with the Narragansett people and other Native and Indigenous peoples.

Sincerely,

Christina H. Paxson

President

 

RELATED LINKS:

Feedback form:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe8bdJcC2CCN6GvkwsVYHGnhB3ljgd9eQi-kU7f16P-oeKMqQ/viewform?usp=sf_link

 

Land Acknowledgement Working Group Recommendations:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/18TKCPkaUxQeTwT1TotKXFVkqXUY6qgQR/view