Correction: This article has had various inaccuracies corrected and clarifications made from its original state, courtesy of input from Native Students Programs.
For centuries, the Serrano (also known as “Yuhaaviatam”) and Cahuilla (Kah-wee ya) people lived on the land of what is now Redlands and San Bernardino. However, by the late eighteenth century, settlers came to the area and began changing and cultivating the land, which disrupted the Native people’s ways of living.
Beginning few months ago, the School of Music has started each performance and concert with a brief message to offer some insight into the history of Redlands and surrounding cities. The message begins with the words “We are gathered on the land of the Serrano and Cahuilla [sic] peoples, and we acknowledge the important contributions of this community.”
This came about after several staff members, including Director of Native Student Programs, Nora Pulskamp, and Assistant Director of Native Student Programs, Elizabeth Shulterbrandt, spearheaded a concerted effort to revitalize the land acknowledgement campaign on campus. Dr. Joseph Modica, the interim dean of the School of Music, explained that the idea to include an acknowledgement in concert announcements was “really the brainchild of [The School of Music’s] director of admissions, Brad Andrews,” who first heard of land acknowledgements at institutions in Canada. Land acknowledgements in other forms at the U of R date back to before the founding of NSP in 2011, under former Director of CDI Leela Madhava Rou.
Further along, the statement says, “The University of Redlands School of Music is committed to continuing to learn about the land we inhabit.” Dr. Modica said that he wants to actually live this statement. In an effort to do this, the School of Music will collaborate with World Music and American Music classes in the Spring to study the performances of Native drummers. There is also talk of the choral classes observing bird singing, a tradition from Southern Californian tribes, Dr. Modica said.
The plans are still tentative, but Dr. Modica made it clear that he aims to make them a reality.
Different variations of land acknowledgments have recently become much more common in universities across the United States, including The University of Portland, Yale, and The University of Washington, along with many others. Their hope is to foster more awareness and acceptance of the original caretakers of the land.
Photograph by Kenza Walthour