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Moorhead Human Rights Commission approves Indigenous land acknowledgment

Panel to ask Moorhead City Council to approve and read statement before each meeting.

Native American statue on Broadway
Pictured is an old Fargo postcard illustrating a Native American statue that used to stand on South Broadway.
Special to The Forum
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MOORHEAD — Moorhead's Human Rights Commission has joined area colleges in approving a land acknowledgment honoring Indigenous people who once lived and worked the land on which the city stands.

It received unanimous approval and will be read before each of their monthly meetings. The commission will also be asking the City Council in February to approve the statement and read it before each of their meetings.

It reads that the "commission, collectively and with gratitude, acknowledges the sacred land the city is built upon.

"We acknowledge the people who have resided here for generations and recognize that the spirit of the Dakota, Ojibwe, Metis and all Indigenous communities permeates this land.

"The contribution of the Indigenous people shall not be forgotten nor will the success that is achieved by the people of the land. We will continue to educate, advocate, honor and unite for Indigenous people of this land."

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The statement, according to commissioners Siham Amedy and MaKell Pauling-Normandin, was developed with the help of the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County.

"They helped us identify the tribes who were here," said Amedy, noting that the people had an economic and living system while here. "We want to acknowledge their contributions and that they are continuing to contribute to our city."

Pauling-Normandin and Amedy added it was a "matter of respect."

Such statements are becoming more common across the country as a way to resist the erasure of Indigenous histories and a way to honor their contributions.

North Dakota State University, the University of North Dakota and Minnesota State University Moorhead have approved similar statements.

Hollie Mackey, interim director of the Indigenous Association of Fargo-Moorhead and a professor and researcher in Indian Education at NDSU, was pleased with the statement.

She called it "thoughtful, meaningful and admirable" and appreciates it when a non-Indigenous group takes on writing a land acknowledgment.

"It's more comprehensive than a lot of the statements I've read," she said. A lot of the statements are put in the historical context, but don't acknowledge that Indigenous people are "still here" and making contributions.

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She understands the political realities, but said another step forward could be recognizing this unceded territory and that the people were "forcibly removed" from the land here.

Mackey thought the human rights panel "did the best they could" and added she has been "very impressed" with the commissioners on the panel and called City Council member Deb White, who is also a human rights commissioner, a "remarkable ally."

The professor, who identifies with the Northern Sheyenne tribe of southeast Montana, said she hopes the words of the statement can be operational in the future.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
An almost 50-year veteran of the newspaper business, Amundson has worked for The Forum and Forum News Service for 15 years. He started as a sport reporter in Minnesota. He is currently the city and night reporter for The Forum. bamundson@forumcomm.com 701-451-5665
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