Land and water acknowledgement for rsa 2024

Land and Water Acknowledgement for rsa 2024

The 2024 21st Biennial Rhetoric Society of America conference is being held on the unceded traditional gathering lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Tsistsistas (Cheyenne), Hinono’ei (Arapahoe) Peoples. Denver was and is the site of trade, hunting, gathering, healing, and stewardship by the Lakota, Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, Shoshone, Navajo peoples, and many others. As uninvited guests on this unceded land, we are thankful for the stewardship and co-existence that Indigenous peoples have fostered with Mother Earth since time immemorial.

The Ute people are the oldest group to inhabit the Great Plains; they lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle and migrated seasonally. The Arapaho and Cheyenne people migrated from Canada and Minnesota to Colorado, forming an alliance that allowed each to expand their territory. 

Further, Ute, Cheyenne, and Arapaho’s migration westward to Wyoming and Nebraska was due to settler colonial violence and forced removal. The Colorado War, fought in 1864 and 1865, came after the Treaty of Fort Laramie, which was established between the U.S. and representatives of the Cheyenne and Arapaho. The Treaty of Fort Wise, which gave up 90% of the land designated to the Cheyenne and Arapaho people at the time, caused rising tension between colonists and those who disagreed with the treaties, arguing that a small minority of chiefs signed them. During the Colorado War, colonial soldiers planned a genocidal attack on Cheyenne and Arapaho territory, killing over 150 Indigenous people, mainly consisting of women, children, and elders; this was called the Sand Creek Massacre. Continuing this history of settler colonialism and forced relocation, Colorado, and Denver in particular, is the site of nine federal relocation sites meant to promote assimilation by the forced removal of indigenous people to urban centers.

Today, there are three Ute tribal reservations: the Southern Ute and the Ute Mountain tribe are located in Colorado. The Cheyenne Nation hunted and lived along the Platte River in Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado. Today, there are two distinct Cheyenne Nations: the Southern Cheyenne and the Northern Cheyenne. The Arapaho people now live in Oklahoma and Wyoming. The Northern Arapaho is a federally recognized tribe known as the Arapaho Tribe of the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. The Southern Arapaho live in Oklahoma and are federally recognized as the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. Native American names for present-day Denver include Arapaho: niineniiniicie, Navajo: Kʼįįshzhíníńlį́, and Tüapü (Ute).

Keeping the conference theme in mind, Just Rhetoric encourages rhetoricians to ask, “What is a Just rhetoric and how might our field leverage our rhetorical skills in the creation of a more Just society?” and “What can rhetoric offer to movements such as Land Back, Reproductive Justice, Disability Justice, Environmental Justice, LGBTQ Rights, and Black Lives Matter?” Land acknowledgments that express gratitude and acknowledgment to the original stewards and protectors of the land since time immemorial are only the beginning of considering how rhetoric can move us towards a more just society. As rhetoricians, we are responsible for learning about and understanding the histories of the places where we gather and live. With this in mind, we encourage conference attendees to learn more about the Indigenous history of Colorado and the land where they work and reflect on how Indigenous stewardship allows them to enjoy its beauty. We also encourage conference attendees to learn more about settler colonialism and the legacies of genocidal assimilation enacted on Indigenous people through residential schools and oppressive language ideologies.

How you can learn about the Indigenous peoples of Colorado

Sessions to attend at RSA

  • Doing “Just Rhetorics” on Indigenous Lands – RSA SuperSession 3:30-5:30 PM Saturday, 25 May, 2024, Governor’s 11
  • Cultural Relationships, Cohorts, Connections, and Codes: Rhetorics of Indigenous Community – 11:00 AM-12:15 PM Friday, 24 May, 2024, Governor’s 14