About this idea
Overview: Land Acknowledgement Events (LAEs) are ceremonial components of events such as conferences, corporate and sports events, as well as academic ceremonies (i.e., graduations) that serve to recognize the history of the land on which events take place. They involve acknowledging and honoring the indigenous communities who served as the residents and stewards of the land long before the United States existed. In the current proposal, grant funds are requested to support a project referred to as Beyond Land Acknowledgements (BLA). BLA is a philanthropic social justice and action project which will soon populate the website landacknowledgement.info. The mission of BLA is to serve as a compendium for LAEs that will inform and motivate attendees to engage in direct action that will benefit Indigenous groups acknowledged during LAEs.
Personal Connection to the Project: I am a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Because I live in Florida, I have been unable to directly work with my tribe who is located in Michigan. This project would allow me to do something that would not only help support my tribe but other tribes as well.
Proposed Plan: The BLA project aims to do the following:
Build the website: I will oversee the website build to ensure that the design, content (database with zip codes and vetted organizations*), and technical capability of the website meet the project’s requirements. Currently, the plan is for the website to provide a background section (historical and challenges experienced by Indigenous communities), links to geolocate Tribal organizations that will accept volunteers and financial support in the vicinity of the LAE, and resources regarding effective and appropriate LAEs. In addition, the website will have the technical capability to generate a qr code that LAEs can include in their program materials for ease of access. This aspect will benefit from an innovative project called Native Land Digital (native-land.ca)
Convene advisors: I will convene an advisory board of Indigenous community and organizational leaders, academic experts, Indigenous youth leaders, and others to serve to guide the project.
Create partnerships: I will engage in social media campaigns and directly engage with organizations hosting events that include LAEs to inform them about this project and solicit their collaboration.
*organizations will be vetted by directly contacting the tribal officers for every officially recognized tribe and asking for organizations that support the people of their tribe
LAEs are growing in popularity and are more readily given at various community, university, sports, and cultural events across the US. While they are intended to “inspire others to take action to support Indigenous communities” (source: nativegov.org), there are currently no user-friendly public clearing houses to guide LAE attendees on what to do if they feel inspired to act. The BLA project aims to fill this important gap by highlighting what concrete actions people can take to support and honor Indigenous communities. Action is very much needed to correct for the historical abuses and current challenges that Indigenous communities face. Here are some examples:
- While Indigenous ways of life are more reliant on local ecosystems, tribes are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change relative to other communities (source: cig.uw.edu).
- Indigenous people have a life expectancy that is 5.5 years less than all other racial groups in the USA (source: digestivehealth.ws)
- In adults over age 25, whereas 42% of the general population have associate degrees or higher, only 25% of Native Americans do. (source: pnpi.org)
- Indigenous people have the highest poverty rate of any ethnicity/race in the US (source: ncoa.org)
Thus, the current project will focus on organizations that support Indigenous people and communities across four areas: the land (environment/conservation), education, health, and financial support.
What I'll do with $5,000
While I will be volunteering my time to accomplish convene the board of advisors and create partnerships, funds are needed for website development. I will be working with the website development from a web development company (Kelp.app) to create the website format and to work specifically on the geolocation aspect of the project. I will create and collect all contact for the project. In addition, funds will be used for logo creation and additional business tools that needed to be purchased (zoom, website hosting, purchase of domain name, ect).
About Sophie Bonanno
Sophie Bonanno is a youth activist from Miami, Florida. She is currently a high school junior and is passionate about intersectional climate advocacy.