"Acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way of showing respect and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture and toward inviting and honoring the truth. Imagine this practice widely adopted: imagine cultural venues, classrooms, conference settings, places of worship, sports stadiums, and town halls, acknowledging traditional lands. Millions would be exposed—many for the first time—to the names of the traditional Indigenous inhabitants of the lands they are on, inspiring them to ongoing awareness and action."
Source: U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, Honor Native Land: A Guide and Call to Acknowledgment
The Smathers Libraries acknowledge that for thousands of years the area now comprising the state of Florida has been, and continues to be, home to many Native Nations. We further recognize that the main campus of the University of Florida is located on the ancestral territory of the Potano and of the Seminole peoples. The Potano, of Timucua affiliation, lived here in the Alachua region from before European arrival until the destruction of their towns in the early 1700s. The Seminole, also known as the Alachua Seminole, established towns here shortly after but were forced from the land as a result of a series of wars with the United States known as the Seminole Wars. The Smathers Libraries acknowledge its obligation to honor the past, present, and future Native residents and cultures of Florida.
Beyond the Gainesville campus, the Smathers Libraries serve many locations statewide that occupy the ancestral and present homelands of the Ais, Apalachee, Calusa, Creek, Miccosukee, and Yamasee as well as many other Native peoples who lived in this region since time immemorial. These lands have been, and continue to be, the site of residence, gathering, and ceremony for numerous Native communities.
An acknowledgment of the land is a formal statement that recognizes Indigenous Peoples as the traditional stewards of the land and acknowledges the enduring relationship between them and their traditional territories. The purpose of this statement is to raise awareness of this relationship as well as the complex histories that led to the forceful removal of Native Americans from their ancestral lands in what today is recognized as the state of Florida.
As a Land Grant Institution, the University of Florida directly benefitted from the Land Grant College Act, otherwise known as the Morrill Act of 1862. Some of the ‘public’ lands that were sold to fund the construction and expansion of the university were lands taken from the Seminole Nation as a result of the Seminole Wars. We, the Smathers Libraries, acknowledge the painful history of forced removal that occurred on these lands and the benefits that have been afforded to us as a result of the disenfranchisement, displacement, and death of so many. This history informs and inspires our work as a cultural heritage and information system committed to supporting all people.
The Smathers Libraries have appointed a Liaison to the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program (AIIS) so that this program and its students have a direct connection to the Library resources and services they need.
Collections pertaining to Indigenous research and culture have been made accessible in a LibGuide that serves the AIIS program at UF. This allows for easier access and discoverability of Indigenous focused materials.
Recognizing the role that current scholarship plays in awareness and visibility of Indigenous peoples and issues, a group of selectors has been organized who are consciously pursuing Indigenous centered content, especially that written by Indigenous authors. Additionally, these selectors are encouraged to pursue grant opportunities that support collections expansion.
The Libraries applied for and received a Collections Enhancement Grant in Indigenous Studies, funded by the UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, which enabled the acquisition of titles featuring Indigenous research and literature in the humanities and social sciences.
Library and archival collections and systems reflect colonialism in various ways. These include: classificatory systems that other, marginalize, exclude, or misrepresent certain cultures, ethnicities, and genders; the curation and circulation of materials gathered without proper permissions; and centering discoverability and searchability efforts on Western materials, resources, and information systems. The Smathers Libraries are actively working to create and refine systems which support the classification, discovery, and accessibility of Native and Indigenous content.
The Smathers Libraries have partnered with the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program to revitalize nearly one thousand Native American Oral Histories. This work is being funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with administrative assistance from the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums.
Ginessa Mahar, chair (Anthropology Librarian, Liaison to American Indian and Indigenous Studies), James Cusick (Curator, P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History), Mikaela David-John (Saint Regis Tribal Member and University of Florida Alumni), Twanna Hodge (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Librarian), Juliana Rojas, (Libraries DEIJ Committee, Libraries Human Resources Assistant)
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