We acknowledge that the IRL National Program Office on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus is built on the traditional or contemporary homelands of the Dakota people. This land was stolen through exploitive treaties that were never honored. It is easy to think of other treaty obligations that have not been honored — such as the broken promises of access to health care, education and economic wellbeing. We acknowledge that those who stole the land, and their ancestors, benefited from the exploitation resources taken from Native Nations.
As a program located in Minnesota, it is important to understand and reflect on the fact that colonialism is current and ongoing. This country’s colonial history and suppression of cultural ways are fundamental causes of inequities in wealth and health witnessed today in Native American communities, including those of our IRL teams.
In spite of tremendous past and present day oppression, there are so many wonderful examples of resistance and thriving, as well as resolve to sustain Indigenous heritage, languages and cultural ways. Native Americans are in positions of leadership in government, education, research, civic service, culinary and other cultural arts, and so much more. IRL is honored to have members of Native American communities present in every cohort. Native Americans continue to be at the forefront of efforts to protect the land and natural resources, mindful that decisions made today must account for the wellbeing of family far into the future. If only US policies were made with this fundamental commitment to sustainability and responsibility.
We honor the sovereign watersheds, birthing traditions, languages, and food systems, and we commit to being responsible guests on these lands in Minnesota. We invite you to reflect on contributions of Indigenous people on the land where you live and work. We invite you to develop commitments you can make to future action that honors Indigenous perspectives and antiracist practices — commitments that we, as an IRL community, can make over the coming days, weeks, and years.
As interdisciplinary research leaders, we acknowledge that research, through “knowledge creation,” plays a role in feeding stereotypes and other harms. Research often provides statistics without the appropriate narratives of underlying causes of health inequities such as extraction, oppression and discrimination. Research often renders Native American people invisible — literally “erased” — by not acknowledging that lack of numbers and the lack of statistical power to represent Native American communities in the data are in fact the legacy of colonization.
The IRL program is committed to supporting
- methods that center local knowledge and experiences;
- methods that engage people most impacted by the research in the research;
- research that conveys the data truthfully and without harm;
- and research that centers community power to enact change.
In recent years, the IRL program has shifted its focus to center equity, diversity, inclusions and antiracism. IRL is not just about health research, but health equity research, policies and practices. We work to weave this antiracism focus into all we do at IRL and we invite you to remind us when we fall short.