Honoring Original Indigenous Inhabitants: Juniper Gardens Children’s Project Land Acknowledgement

Juniper Gardens Children’s Project stands at the intersection of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers, on the ancestral homelands of the Kaw Nation (also known as the Kanza people). We recognize and pay respect to all Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories.

The Process of Land Acknowledgement

Land acknowledgment is a traditional custom that dates back centuries in many Native nations and communities. Today, land acknowledgments are used by Native Peoples and non-Natives to recognize, give honor, and give thanks to Indigenous Peoples who are the original stewards of the lands on which we now live. The story of who lived on and moved through this land differs depending on the sources consulted. Juniper Gardens Children’s Project is emphasizing and prioritizing Indigenous knowledge, such as stories and oral histories, recognizing that Euro-American knowledge systems are often biased, incomplete, and exclusionary. Our search for information is ongoing and as a result, our land acknowledgment is a living, dynamic, statement that is subject to change.

Where We Are Now

Borders for Indigenous communities were extremely fluid prior to colonization and different communities have been connected to the land now called Kansas City, Kansas for thousands of years. Although the land Juniper Gardens Children’s Project sits on is the ancestral land of the Kaw Nation, it is possible that peoples from the Osage Nation and other nations roamed through the land prior to colonization. Kaw Nation possession of the land started changing as the U.S. government forced dozens of Native American communities through the area, relocating Eastern tribes into Missouri from 1803- 1830 and then driving communities further West with the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The peoples who have lived and moved through this land in the past couple hundred years include: Cherokee Nation, Ojibwe (Chippewa) Tribe, Delaware Nation, Illini Tribe, Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, Kansas Kickapoo Tribe, Prairie Band Potowatomi Nation, Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri & Kansas, Seneca Nation, Shawnee Tribe, and Wyandotte Nation of Kansas.

Your Voice

We invite Native and non-Native voices alike to provide feedback, questions, and thoughts about the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project Land Acknowledgment process. Whose stories are we missing? What do you think our land acknowledgement should include? Please contact Jay Buzhardt at jaybuz@ku.edu with your thoughts and suggestions.

Taking Action

We recognize that land acknowledgement alone is not enough – it’s a starting point. As an organization we are exploring ways we can take action to support Indigenous communities and encourage others to do the same. One of the first actions is to encourage employees to take a self-assessment to determine if any of our current behaviors are causing harm to Indigenous Peoples. For more information about the self-assessment and land acknowledgement, we recommend going to Native Governance Center Self-Assessment.