Fall 2021

We are the Land

Honoring Native nations

The University of Arizona has crafted a statement that acknowledges the university’s home on the land and territories of Indigenous people.

"We respectfully acknowledge the University of Arizona is on the land and territories of Indigenous peoples. Today, Arizona is home to 22 federally recognized tribes, with Tucson being home to the O'odham and the Yaqui. Committed to diversity and inclusion, the University strives to build sustainable relationships with sovereign Native Nations and Indigenous communities through education offerings, partnerships, and community service."

The statement lays a foundation, university leaders say, for meaningful partnerships and continued support for Native American students and communities.

The acknowledgment, announced to the university community in July, might seem like a simple 61-word statement. But it carries significant meaning for how the university recognizes the people whose homeland the campus occupies.

“This is about us truly recognizing the sovereign nations and the people who were here before us and are still here today,” says Nathan Levi Esquerra (Chemehuevi), UArizona senior vice president for Native American advancement and tribal engagement. “It’s about us acknowledging and recognizing their culture and knowledge so we can understand our past as we move toward the future.”

“This land acknowledgment is a milestone in our important ongoing discussions with the Tohono O’odham Nation, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and the 20 other federally recognized tribes in the state,” says University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. “It indicates our commitment to collaborating with the Native Nations and Indigenous communities.”

Esquerra says Tohono O’odham Chairman Ned Norris, Jr. and the Tohono O’odham Nation’s Cultural Preservation Committee, Pascua Yaqui Chairman Peter Yucupicio and the Pascua Yaqui Tribal Council were instrumental in drafting the acknowledgment. 

“We also thank members of the university community who participated in this process, including the Native American Faculty group; Karen Francis-Begay (Navajo), assistant vice provost for Native American Initiatives; and Patrick Lyons, director of the Arizona State Museum.”