Campus Life

USU Launches Land Acknowledgment Working Group to Draft Statements for Campuses

Utah State University President Noelle E. Cockett has formed a working group that will create a framework for future university land acknowledgement statements that will recognize and respect Native American peoples as the original stewards of USU land.

Land acknowledgements are formal statements that recognize that the land an institution is on originally belonged to Indigenous peoples and acknowledges there remains an existing relationship between these people and their land. Statements also recognize when land was unfairly seized from Indigenous peoples and the detriment of those seizures.

“As Utah’s land-grant institution, it is important to remember that our campuses – from Logan to Blanding – rest on the land of multiple native nations,” President Cockett said. “The land acknowledgement demonstrates respect for the historic and contemporary presence of Indigenous peoples in Utah, while recognizing their legacy. I am proud of the work the committee will undertake to help educate our campus and community about this land and our relationships with it and one another.”

The working group, comprised of seven university employees who have ties to Native American groups, is chaired by Marilyn Cuch, Hunkpapa Lakota, a secondary education lecturer on USU’s Uintah Basin campus.

“Our work on the committee is very important in telling the stewardship history and familial ties of Native peoples who called, and still call, Utah their home,” Cuch said. “We are respectfully working with tribal leadership for approval and to ensure the land acknowledgements for all statewide campuses are accurate. With the start of an acknowledgment comes partnerships with our tribal communities, and eventually, programmatic changes reflecting the diverse needs and goals of the Native learners on our campuses. It is an honor to work with faculty and staff on this committee.”

Other members include: Alina Begay, Indigenous program coordinator in the Inclusion Center; Jim Dandy, program coordinator for the Native American-Serving Non-tribal Institution; Judson Finley, associate professor in Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology; Teresa Frazier, director of the Upward Bound program; John Gamber, associate professor in English; and Melissa Tehee, assistant professor in Psychology and director of the American Indian Support Project.

The statements will acknowledge the history of USU lands and Native American peoples and will be created with the intent to be shared during USU celebrations. The group will work throughout the next several months to create language specific to individual USU campuses and events, to create content for a website about USU’s land acknowledgments, and to develop guidelines for the use of statements.

Group members will work with tribal and Indigenous Nation leaders in the community who will review the statements. USU campuses now sit on which land the Bannock, Goshute, Navajo, Paiute, Shoshone and Ute peoples have resided.

The group’s work on a new website will provide additional context to the often-dark history of how USU came to gain the land it stands on today, Cuch said.

“The creation of this group is a step toward further acknowledging the many injustices against the Indigenous people who were already residing on the land, and the presentation of this statement during USU events will ensure these issues remain at the fore,” Cuch said.

The working group, comprised of seven university employees who have ties to Native American groups, is chaired by Marilyn Cuch, Hunkpapa Lakota, a secondary education lecturer on USU's Uintah Basin campus.


Emilie Wheeler
News Director
University Marketing and Communications

Marilyn Cuch
Secondary Teacher Education Program, School of Teacher Education & Leadership
Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services


Community 387stories Utah 334stories Diversity & Inclusion 146stories Statewide Campuses 139stories

Comments and questions regarding this article may be directed to the contact person listed on this page.

Next Story in Campus Life

See Also