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Stanford’s Relationships with Native Peoples

Native Ohlone drummers

Student drummers (left to right) Tai Anthony Buyco McMillan, Pilli Alfonso Cruz De-Jesus, David Espinoza and Ramiro Maxeechoga Hampson-Medina closed the dedication of Jane Stanford Way ceremony with an honoring song. (Image credit: Farrin Abbott)

Stanford University’s campus is located within the traditional territory of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, on land Leland Stanford purchased in the 1870s and 1880s. The university has been engaged with Ohlone sites and communities since its founding in the mid-1880s. Archaeological research took place throughout the 20th century but without the important component of Ohlone stakeholder collaboration until the 1980s, when Stanford and the Ohlone community built mutual trust around issues of repatriation and consultation. Since then, the university and Native peoples have deepened their relationship and continue to partner in Native American Cultural Center programming, Native American Studies learning opportunities, Stanford American Indian Organization events, community-led archaeology, historic interpretation, and a developing Native plant garden. More information can be found here: https://facts.stanford.edu/signage/ohlone/

During the 1960s, Native American students advocated for and worked with the administration to increase opportunities for Indigenous peoples at Stanford. Today, the university has a vibrant community of Native students, faculty, staff, and alumni. More than 400 students on campus represent over 50 tribes, and “Muwekma-Tah-Ruk ~ The House of the People” is a residence that celebrates the diversity of Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas and Pacific Islands.

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What is a Land Acknowledgment?

  • At many gatherings at Stanford, we take a moment to acknowledge the story and significance of the land on which the university sits and the responsibility of stewardship across generations. This show of respect reminds us of Stanford’s connection to Ohlone lands and peoples and encourages ongoing engagement among our communities.
  • This statement is known as a land acknowledgment. It is typically included in written event programs or offered during the welcome or opening remarks.
  • The recommended practice is to welcome participants first, prior to reciting the land acknowledgment. If possible, it is preferred for the acknowledgment to be shared by an invited Native speaker. Another option is to share the video above featuring Native students voicing the acknowledgment.

Stanford's Land Acknowledgment Statement

“Stanford sits on the ancestral land of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. This land was and continues to be of great importance to the Ohlone people. Consistent with our values of community and inclusion, we have a responsibility to acknowledge, honor, and make visible the University’s relationship to Native peoples.”

This acknowledgment has been developed in collaboration with the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe.

Campus Partners

Native American Studies
Born out of student organizing and advocacy, NAS introduces students to a broad range of approaches to the academic study of Native American people, history, and culture.

Native American Cultural Center
A welcoming home to Stanford’s Indigenous-identifying students and others, the NACC champions Indigenous excellence, fosters leadership development, and promotes wellness.

Muwekma Tah-Ruk
Meaning “House of the People,” Muwekma Tah-Ruk is a four-class Row house that celebrates the diversity of Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas and Pacific Islands.

Renamings
Initiated by Native American student advocacy, in 2016 a Stanford committee developed principles for renaming campus streets and buildings. Since then, several landmarks, including those formerly named after Junipero Serra, have been renamed.

Stanford American Indian Organization
The umbrella organization of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians at Stanford, SAIO addresses the social, political, educational, and cultural issues of the Indigenous Stanford community.

Stanford Indigenous Alumni Association
The purpose of SIAA is to honor, connect, and support the Indigenous Stanford alumni community in all its diversity.

For questions about this Land Acknowledgement, please contact the NACC Director, Karen Biestman at biestman@stanford.edu.

Muwekma Ohlone tribe members singing

Muwekma Ohlone Tribe participating at the Jane Stanford Way celebration.