REP members work to promote the Land
By Daalny Meyer, Reporter
The Land Acknowledgement, designed by the Racial Equity Pact, was recently added to the morning announcements on Mondays and Fridays at Vashon Island High School. The announcement is part of REP’s goal to spread racial equity across the school and beyond.
The purpose of the Land Acknowledgement is to shed light on the turbulent history of the land the school resides on, and grow attentiveness for the Native American communities who traditionally owned this land, such as the Puyallup people.
“[The] Land Acknowledgement shows due respect to the native people of the land we occupy today,” VHS senior and REP member Ava Woo said. “It remind[s] students that we refuse to let the mass genocide, manipulation, and theft of indigenous peoples in the United States be forgotten.”
Spreading awareness for the hardships faced by Native Americans in both the past and the present is one of the ways in which REP works to reach their goal of informing the school community and the public.
“We always learn about oppression and discrmination, but a lot of us tend to think it’s way behind us and that everything has disappeared now,” junior REP member Aliya Ricks said. “But, the rules [and] laws we live by were made by the Columbuses of the world so there is a layer of racism
embedded in that.”
Getting the Land Acknowledgement into the morning announcements was an important step forward for this goal. So far, however, REP is unsure of the effectiveness of the Acknowledgement in reaching students.
“It was really big when we did get it into the announcements, but I’m not sure how much it’s impacting students, because I’m not sure if people just don’t care about the announcements, or [if] they don’t listen,” junior and REP member Saffron Hinz said. “But I do think it was a big step that we got it into the announcements, and that people are continuing to read it.”
To show respect for the Acknowledgment, Hinz encourages remaining silent instead of talking over it. Hinz would also like to see the Land Acknowledgement become more of a norm by expanding it into other areas.
“I know a lot of times teachers and students sort of talk over announcements, so [to show respect] they can be quiet [during the Acknowledgement],” Hinz said. “We [also] want to try to add the Acknowledgement before sports games, like football games or soccer games.”
Ricks adds that remaining quiet during the Land Acknowledgement is the best way to respect it and the circumstances it is showing consideration for.
“Just like we respect the Pledge and are quiet when that comes on, we need to do the same for the Land Acknowledgement,” Ricks said.
Woo noted that respecting the Land Acknowledgement is important because it brings attention to indiginous peoples and their history, not just on Vashon, but across the Nation.
“[The Acknowledgement] is an important step to acknowledging how colonization and institutional internalized racism is still present in our communities,” she said. “To acknowledge indigenous nations as communities that have been wronged, the least we can do is respect their presence and encourage education and reparations to be made.”
In the future, REP hopes to continue growing awareness for the history and present issues the Land Acknowledgment draws attention to.
“I would like to see the announcements start with the Land Acknowledgement to set the tone of our school’s values,” Woo said. “I also hope it will receive more respect from students and faculty.”
It is important to take the history of the land the school district is on into consideration, and that history’s effects on the present circumstances of the Puyallup people and other Native American groups.
“Americans pushed out, silenced, and killed Natives,” Ricks said. “If we respect veterans, then we should respect the people who were silenced and killed for the land we live on.”