The Choctaw, Houma, Chitimacha, Biloxi, and other Native peoples have lived on this land since time immemorial. Their identities are inextricably connected to this place. With gratitude and honor, Tulane University pays tribute to the original inhabitants of this land.
The city of New Orleans was not built upon virgin soil, but merely served as a continuation of a great indigenous trade hub known in Choctaw as Bulbancha, "the place of other tongues”. For thousands of years, people lived along the Mississippi River, and Bulbancha served as a place for diverse cultures to come together. We acknowledge the grounds of our campus and the city around us as home to numerous tribes before and after the arrival of Europeans.
The tradition of community and sharing demonstrated by indigenous peoples enabled European immigrants to survive in a foreign environment and has influenced New Orleans and southeastern culture since colonization began. From food and music to art and language, Native Americans continue to leave their mark on our city and academic community.
We recognize that as a result of broken treaties and involuntary removals, Native Americans were often forced from their lands. We remember and pay respect to the communities impacted by these actions.
Yet, the resilient voices of Native Americans are still heard and remain an inseparable part of our local culture. In that spirit we acknowledge the indigenous nations that have lived and continue to thrive here.
Abbreviated Tulane Land Acknowledgment
We acknowledge and pay tribute to the original inhabitants of this land. The city of New Orleans is a continuation of an indigenous trade hub on the Mississippi River, known for thousands of years as Bulbancha. Native peoples have lived on this land since time immemorial, and the resilient voices of Native Americans remain an inseparable part of our local culture. With gratitude and honor, we acknowledge the indigenous nations that have lived and continue to thrive here.
Why does Tulane need a Land Acknowledgement?
Native American/First Nations/Indigenous communities and their allies called for a Tulane Land Acknowledgement to be created to recognize the first peoples who inhabited the land that we as Tulanians learn, work, and live on every day. We seek to honor rich history of the Native American/First Nations/Indigenous communities who are still stewarding the land we now call “New Orleans” and “Louisiana.” As we honor these communities, we understand that we must look at a complex history of colonization that had impacts on our local, regional, and national Native American/First Nations/Indigenous communities. In doing so, we recognize that a land acknowledgment is not an endpoint of this understanding of Native American/First Nations/Indigenous communities’ history and respecting these important peoples. Rather, Tulane’s land acknowledgement is an important step in the long journey of ensuring our Native American/First Nations/Indigenous students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community partners experience belonging and thriving within our university community.
How are land acknowledgements used on campus?
We suggest you use the land acknowledgment in two ways: (1) when holding a large gathering, read the land acknowledgement to pay respect to past and current Native Americans/First Nations/Indigenous communities where we live, learn, and work and (2) as a beginning to a conversation about how your campus unit understands past and current context at Tulane and in New Orleans and the Gulf Region for Native Americans/First Nations/Indigenous communities.
How do Native American/First Nations/Indigenous communities feel about land acknowledgements?
This is an important question. Our Indigenous Faculty and Staff Affinity group and students thought that the process of writing Tulane’s land acknowledgement and sharing it on our website and at our large gatherings was important to send a clear message to Native American/First Nations/Indigenous communities on and off campus that Tulane values them. We are grateful for the people who worked closely with Tulane calling for this.
Do other universities have land acknowledgements?
Yes. We join universities within the Association of American Universities and across the nation who have land acknowledgements. You can take a look at a few of our peer and aspirant universities at these links: Harvard University, Stanford University, Cornell University, Columbia University, Yale University, and Vanderbilt University.
As a Tulanian, how can I use the land acknowledgement in a respectful way? How can I support community-building for Native American/First Nations/Indigenous communities on and off campus?
We love this question! At the university level, we have the land acknowledgement on our website, and we share it at the beginning of large gatherings, such as commencement. Whether you are in an event focusing on students, faculty, staff, alumni, and/or community partners, you can share the land acknowledgement at the beginning of large and small events. It is important that we demonstrate respect as we read the land acknowledgement and strive to use correct pronunciation (see the Pronunciation Guide above) as we read the land acknowledgement, and to understand that the land acknowledgement is just one – albeit very important – aspect of supporting Native American/First Nations/Indigenous communities.
Take some time in your unit to ask the following questions so your use of the land acknowledgement is connected to meaningful work you are doing within your campus unit and with your colleagues:
- What specific knowledge do you have about the needs of Native American/First Nations/Indigenous communities at Tulane?
- What resources can help you increase your efforts to support Native American/First Nations/Indigenous communities at Tulane?
- What feedback have you received from Native American/First Nations/Indigenous communities at Tulane about areas of need and improvement needed? What actions have you taken to address these needs?
Where can I find more information on Native American/First Nations/Indigenous communities in the land we now call “New Orleans,” “Louisiana,” the “Gulf Region,” and around the world?
There are multiple resources you can explore at the following links. Each year, we plan to update and expand accessibility to these resources, as well as support meaningful and equitable collaborations with our local, state, regional, national, and global Native American/First Nations/Indigenous communities.
- Tulane Indigenous Faculty and Staff Affinity Group
- Tulane Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
- Tulane Office of Multicultural Affairs
New Orleans Resources
- The Native Roots of the French Market
- Remembering Bulbancha
- Revising Indigenous Histories with Bulbancha is Still a Place
- TriPod: New Orleans at 300
- American Indians in Louisiana
- Indigenous Tribes of New Orleans and Louisiana
- Louisiana’s Native American Heritage
- Office of Indian Affairs, Louisiana Office of the Governor
- Tunica Language Project
- College Horizons – First Nations/Indigenous/Native American Scholarship Resources
- Map of Indigenous Nations – Learn about the Land Where You Live and Learn
- Winds of Change – Advancing Indigenous People in STEM
- US Department of Arts and Culture – Learn More about Land Acknowledgements
- International Work Group for International Affairs
- Global Indigenous Council: Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Indigenous Peoples: Amnesty International
- Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations
Who wrote Tulane’s land acknowledgement?
Tulane’s land acknowledgement was developed in consultation with Colleen Billiot and John Barbry, members of the United Houma and Tunica-Biloxi Nations respectively. Colleen and John worked closely with the Office of the President and the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to discuss the purpose of the land acknowledgement, as well as to discuss ways to honor our Native American/First Nations/Indigenous communities at Tulane and in New Orleans in meaningful ways.