Land Acknowledgment

May 2022

Brown University has developed an official land acknowledgment as part of a set of commitments to build a better understanding of the relationship between the University, the Indigenous peoples of this region, and the land on which Brown is situated. Learn more at

President Paxson's Letter on the Recommendations of the Land Acknowledgement Working Group
10 March 2022

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 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.


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.

Read the full Recommendations of the Land Acknowledgement Working Group Here


NAISI Statement on Land Acknowledgement from March 2021

In our efforts to create a meaningful acknowledgment of the Indigenous peoples and their connections to the land that Brown University occupies, NAISI and others at the University are following a protocol to carefully consider what this acknowledgment should be according to the Indigenous peoples connected to this place. We will work in consultation with local tribes to determine what statement, if any, and actions can best acknowledge tribal connections to this land that was occupied long before the University or State of Rhode Island existed.

Addressing this important effort in full depth and according respect to all who are invested in this work will take time, deliberation, and care; it may take a number of months, and perhaps years, to complete. We are committed to engaging in a complete dialogue with local tribal peoples to ensure that the process is comprehensive.

Creating a meaningful land acknowledgment requires following Indigenous protocols to accomplish more than a statement regarding which tribe or tribes are connected to the lands occupied by Brown University today. Our actions and statements will be guided by dialogue with local tribes and will seek to address our history and interactions with Indigenous peoples of the area. Each University needs to examine and understand the different and complicated legacies we have and consider how to address these, following input and guidance of local tribes.

Including a land acknowledgment at the beginning of courses or campus events has emerged as a practice outside of Indigenous spaces only recently. Before doing this, ask yourself: Why do you wish to have a land acknowledgment? Why is this important to you? What is the purpose of a land acknowledgment? In what ways can you move beyond an acknowledgment to meaningful action?