Some of you will already be familiar with land acknowledgements. You may have heard them at events you’ve attended. Those of us who have been to plays at OSF have heard land acknowledgements regularly for several years. Well, JCLS is rolling one out, too and you’ll see it at the end of this post, but first I wanted to talk about WHY we are rolling out a land acknowledgement and HOW we went about writing it. Drafting a land acknowledgement is not something to be entered into lightly, and, well, since we’re librarians, you know we did our homework. 

First off: land acknowledgements are used to, yes, acknowledge that the land on which we live is the ancestral homeland of people who were here prior to Euro-American colonization from time immemorial and whose descendants are members of our community today. It is also a way for those listening to see themselves within the broader context of history. It is a way to make a commitment to righting wrongs that have been committed. 

The acknowledgement itself was written collaboratively by the Library’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee. After going through multiple rounds of edits, general feedback, and discussion, the final draft was presented to the Jackson County Library District Board for approval. The Board approved it at their meeting held on December 15.  

We used many resources to draft the statement; those listed below were the most helpful. 

  • Talking to faculty from the Native American Studies Department at SOU about how to go about writing a land acknowledgement. Because of their good work, there are excellent resources at the SOU website.
  • Native Land Digital has an excellent interactive map, if you’d like to do more research about where you currently live or where you have lived. This is the tool we used to start our research about which tribes we should name in our acknowledgement. 
  • See below for information from the tribes we acknowledge, which are linked from the text of the land acknowledgement itself.  
  • We’ve also compiled a list of materials from our collection that discuss the specific history of Native Americans in Southern Oregon. Most of the titles on this list also appear on the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians website bibliography. 
  • You might also find this video from the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture about land acknowledgement a useful explanation of the importance of such statements.

Even reviewing all these sources, you may still have questions. That’s OK, we are all still learning. Even recognizing this, it’s still really important to note (and this is important) Native Americans are not monolithic. Traditions, ceremonies, and languages vary by tribe and by region. Totem poles, for example, were not and are not carved by all tribes. Only some tribes whose ancestral homelands are in Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska carved totem poles. Because of their power as symbols, non-Native Americans often think of these as symbols of broader Indigeneity, but really, they are not. This concept also extends beyond traditions and into ideas. It shouldn’t need to be pointed out to anyone living in the United States today: people disagree. Often and loudly. All identity groups have disagreement from within as well. All the time. What this means is that Native Americans don’t all agree on things, even things like whether land acknowledgements are a good idea. What this also means is that some Native Americans will disagree with this statement. We worked hard on it and made every effort to be factually accurate. We are committed to the concept of acknowledging the land on which we live. We are also open to learning if we’ve gotten it wrong. You can share feedback about the content of our acknowledgement with us via email at

This is not a conclusion, but a beginning of a process at JCLS around how we perceive and interact with indigeneity. Action is required, and our strategic planning process is a time to do this. If you want to provide input on steps the library should take, fill out our community survey (the deadline is January 15).

And, now, to acknowledge the land on which we live: 

Jackson County Library Services acknowledges that its libraries are located within the traditional lands of the Shasta, Takelma, and Latgawa people, whose descendants are now identified as members of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, as well as of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians and Modoc Nation who were forced to relocate to Oklahoma. 

These Tribes were displaced during rapid Euro-American colonization, the Gold Rush, and armed conflict between 1851 and 1856. In the 1850s, discovery of gold and settlement brought thousands of Euro-Americans to their lands, leading to warfare, epidemics, starvation, and villages being burned. In 1853 the first of several treaties were signed, confederating these Tribes and others together—who would then be referred to as the Rogue River Tribe. These treaties ceded most of their homelands to the United States, and in return they were guaranteed a permanent homeland reserved for them. At the end of the Rogue River Wars in 1856, these Tribes and many other Tribes from western Oregon were removed from the land. Most were sent to the Siletz and Grand Ronde Reservations. The Modoc were sent to Oklahoma after the Modoc War in 1873. The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians defied removal and went into hiding.  

The result of forced relocation and genocide is that Jackson County is no longer a population center for these specific tribal groups. As of the 2020 Census 4.6% of the population of Jackson County has some indigenous heritage—while this is more than twice the national average, it is a precipitous reduction from the pre-colonial 100%. We acknowledge that indigenous groups are too often relegated to the historical past when, in truth, indigenous people are essential members of the Jackson County community.  

We take this moment to recognize the Indigenous peoples whose traditional homelands and hunting grounds are where residents of Jackson County live today. We encourage you to learn about the land you reside on and to join us in advocating for the inherent sovereignty of Indigenous people.