UM’s School of Public Health ups the ante on Native land acknowledgements

When D’Shane Barnett first heard a land acknowledgement about four years ago, he thought the statement recognizing that Missoula is on land traditionally occupied by Indigenous people was powerful.

But Barnett, the director and health officer of the Missoula City-County Health Department, said the statements have since lost some of their impact.

“It’s like the first time that you tell someone you love them,” said Barnett, who is from the Mandan and Arikara tribes. He said land acknowledgements are great but when they’re overused, their function of inspiring action falls short.

JPB Fellow Annie Belcourt writes updated land acknowledgement for the University of Montana’s School of Public Health, read more.