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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

BONEBRAKE: Marquette Athletics must recite land and water acknowledgment before games

Photo by John Leuzzi
Sophomore guard Stevie Mitchell (4) brings the ball up in Marquette men’s basketball’s 2021 N7 Game.

Before every Marquette game, the familiar sights and sounds of ACDC’s “Thunderstruck” blaring through the speakers and gold and blue everywhere you turn is nothing out of the ordinary. One thing missing from these pregame rituals is the land and water acknowledgment.

Currently, Marquette’s land and water acknowledgment can be read at the beginning of any in-person or virtual event hosted on campus. Marquette University resides on lands owned by the Menominee, Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk, Fox, Mascouten, Sauk and Ojibwe nations.

Marquette Athletics must implement this in their pregame routine. If Marquette can announce sponsorship messages and reminders about good sportsmanship at games, they should also read the acknowledgment. 

In October 2021, faculty advisors and Indigenous student leaders worked together to create the acknowledgment which aims to “recognize the long history of Native peoples and nations that lived on and stewarded the land and water where the university now resides.” The acknowledgment was designed in both written and oral versions. 

As the Chief Photographer at the Marquette Wire, I have been to my fair share of athletics games throughout the three years I have worked for the Wire. The land and water acknowledgment has not been read at a single one of these games. Marquette emphasizes their loyal fans frequently throughout the year with student only games, giving out free t-shirts and having various activities at athletics games. If Marquette truly cares about their fans, they would extend this same level of care to honoring the land in which they are playing on.

At Valley Fields, the current public address announcer, Dan Pheifer, reminds those in the stands at men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse games that they are on Native lands, but he does not read the full acknowledgment.

Scott Kuykendall, senior associate athletic director and communications, confirmed that the only game where the acknowledgment is read in its entirety is at men’s basketball’s annual Nike N7 game during Native American Heritage Month. “The Nike N7 Collection is a shoe and retail line named after the seventh-generation principle, espoused by the Haudenosaunee people. It states that the decisions we make today will have an effect seven generations into the future.”

This year’s game will be played Nov. 17 at Fiserv Forum when Marquette plays host to Long Island University. N7 partners with certain collegiate basketball teams to make special turquoise jerseys and shorts. The color symbolizes protection, courage and truth to certain tribes and is most often incorporated in Native jewelry.

In February 2022, the university updated its seal to “more accurately depict the role of the Indigenous nations that guided Father Marquette on his journey.” The seal is used on official presidential documents and events.

Since Marquette redesigned the seal and created the land and water acknowledgment, the university should be using these resources. Currently, I have never heard the acknowledgment read at any university event I have attended. I have only seen the acknowledgment in a handful of professors’ email signatures.

When students come to Marquette, this campus is their home for the next four years. Marquette needs to ensure that Indigenous students feel recognized and accepted. This year, Marquette saw the most diverse first-year class the university has ever had. With a more diverse class, the university needs to continue using the resources that make these students feel welcomed and included on their campus.

If Marquette is able to update the seal and create an official land and water acknowledgment, Marquette Athletics should be following suit. Just as the National Anthem is sung before sporting games, the land and water acknowledgment should be recited as well.

This article was written by Isabel Bonebrake. She can be reached at [email protected].

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