On Monday, Oct. 11, in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, UNC Charlotte unveiled a land and people acknowledgement plaque outside Popp Martin Student Union.
UNC Charlotte junior Page Freeman, president of the Native American Student Association and an active member of the Lumbee tribe, stated land acknowledgements “serve as the capacity to raise awareness and educate others on the Indigenous tribes and people who paved the way for the contemporary lifestyle we enjoy today.”
Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber, in recognizing the importance of the event, said, “A land acknowledgement is a simple yet powerful way to honor Indigenous history and to express the gratitude and respect that is due to those who came before us.”
In this spirit, the University’s acknowledgement recognizes African people and their descendants and the ways the greater Charlotte region has profited from a history of slavery and forced labor.
For both Gaber and Freeman, the installment of this plaque represents a step toward fostering a culture of inclusion and belonging at UNC Charlotte.
The plaque reads:
“With respect to the land and people who preceded us, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte acknowledges that we are on colonized land traditionally belonging to the Catawba, Cheraw, Sugeree, Wateree, and Waxhaw Peoples, all of whom have stewarded this land throughout the generations. Before this land was colonized and named the city of Charlotte, it was used as a place of meeting and trade by a diverse group of Indigenous peoples, including the Catawba, Cherokee, Congaree, and Saponi. We also acknowledge that the greater Charlotte region has directly profited from the enslavement and forced labor of African people and their descendants. We recognize that knowing, acknowledging, and honoring the history of the land and the people is only the first step. We must support and listen to Indigenous and Black voices, while continuing to address the policies and practices that perpetuate oppression.”
More information about UNC Charlotte’s land and people acknowledgement is on the Office of Diversity and Inclusion website.