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Emory approves Land Acknowledgment recognizing displaced Indigenous nations

Emory University President Gregory L. Fenves issued the following statement Sept. 27

The Emory Board of Trustees has approved an official Land Acknowledgment for Emory University.

This statement is a recognition of the Muscogee (Creek) and other Indigenous nations, who were displaced in the years before Emory’s founding. It sheds light on a tragic chapter in the Emory story and in the history of the United States. And it also reminds us of the important work that lies ahead—to create a university community that is more inclusive of Native and Indigenous perspectives, learning, and scholarship.

The land acknowledgment was composed by a group of Emory leaders, historians, and experts from across the university, building upon years of work undertaken by faculty, staff, and students to recognize the legacy of Native and Indigenous dispossession on the lands of Emory’s campuses. The statement aligns with the recommendations of the Task Force on Untold Stories and Disenfranchised Populations, which will help our community understand viewpoints and narratives that have been overlooked or omitted from Emory’s history. 

This statement is about accountability as much as it is about understanding our past. And my hope is that it will inspire powerful conversations on our campuses as well as action and engagement.

To that end, today I am announcing the formation of a working group to advance plans for the development of a Language Path on the Emory campuses to honor the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and highlight the Muscogee language and culture. The chairs of the working group will be Malinda Maynor Lowery, Cahoon Family Professor of American History in Emory College; and Gregory McGonigle, Dean of Religious Life and University Chaplain.

The university has also begun taking steps to establish a stronger connection with the Muscogee Nation. We are linked through our history, and it is my hope that we can work together and be a part of each other’s present and future for the benefit of our communities. 

As we did for the first time last year, Emory will continue to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day moving forward. And the university will work to develop and offer academic and community programming to deepen our knowledge of the lives and legacies of Native and Indigenous peoples. As a first step, the upcoming “In the Wake of Slavery and Dispossession” symposium will be hosted from September 29 to October 1 at Emory.

These actions are aligned with the official Land Acknowledgment, as we chart our course for the future.

Gregory L. Fenves

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