During a recent meeting on October 25th, Trustee Ernesto Querijero introduced a land acknowledgment to the Ann Arbor School Board, marking the culmination of nearly two years of collaborative efforts by the board.
This initiative aimed to recognize that the land currently occupied by Ann Arbor Public Schools was historically inhabited by several Native American tribes.
In shaping the language for the land acknowledgment, board members engaged with two retired AAPS teachers who had previously integrated Native American history into their curricula.
According to Querijero, they also collaborated with Andrea Pierce, the Anishinaabek Caucus Council Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, to craft the acknowledgment and identify appropriate sources for its language.
Querijero explained, “The wording within this acknowledgment draws from various land acknowledgments in our region, including the University of Michigan’s.
The process of creating this acknowledgment has been a thorough one, and it respects the significance of this recognition.”
The board intends to introduce the proposed language for the first of two briefings at an upcoming meeting. This will provide the public with an opportunity to offer feedback and suggestions before the board formally votes on the land acknowledgment.
Board member Susan Ward Schmidt expressed her appreciation for the deliberate pace, stating, “I’m grateful that this process isn’t rushing and that we’re allowing ample time for input and consideration. It’s a well-executed effort.”
The acknowledgment presented by Querijero acknowledges the Native American tribes whose ancestral land is now within the boundaries of the school district.
It recognizes that the acquisition of this land was formalized through a process that was “alien to native cultures,” specifically, the Treaty of Detroit in 1807.
Querijero emphasized, “Acknowledgment, by itself, represents a small step and should not be confined to the past or merely treated as a historical matter. Colonialism remains an ongoing issue, and we acknowledge our responsibility to educate students about our role in this history.”
The board members were unanimous in their support for the work carried out by Querijero and others, including Bryan Johnson, whose involvement dates back to November 2021.
Trustee Torchio Feaster expressed his appreciation for the effort put into creating the acknowledgment, stating, “In my personal view, this statement is powerful. While it can’t erase or change the past, it’s a significant recognition of the ongoing impact of colonialism.”