Shoshone-Bannock Land Acknowledgement
Idaho State University is located on the traditional territory of the Shoshone and Bannock Peoples. It is important to recognize that most of us are guests in this territory and to counter the narrative that the land was uninhabited at the time of settler-colonization. The Shoshone and Bannock Peoples originally inhabited the lands in areas now known as California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. Through U.S. policies of forced relocation and assimilation, the Shoshone and Bannock peoples' lands were reduced to reservations in Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, and Utah. The reservation along the Snake River in Idaho, established under the Fort Bridger Treaty of 1868 originally contained 1.8 million acres but was later reduced to 546,338 acres through allotment and legislation. Today, this region is still home to many Shoshone and Bannock Peoples who contribute to the local economy and culture.
Statement on Inclusivity
The Department of Anthropology at Idaho State University supports and encourages the inclusion of LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff. Our department is committed to the discovery and transmission of knowledge. These goals cannot be constrained by any single community view but instead must embrace all worldviews. Only by seeking out varied cultures, genders, ethnicities, political and religious beliefs, sexual orientations, and identities can we reach understanding of complex social problems, make new discoveries in anthropology, and advance knowledge of the human condition.
As anthropologists we have all experienced and understand the importance of growth in our understanding of culture and intellectual breadth. We have gained this through exposure and study of diverse peoples, both past and present, around the world. We live in a 21st Century globally interconnected world. Where success in education and employment requires fully engaged community members that embrace diversity and contest complacency and exclusionary practices. We aim to provide a safe space for learning for all.
We, the faculty of the Department of Anthropology at Idaho State University, stand in solidarity against systemic racism and the resulting injustices and violence towards our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community, students, and colleagues. We unhesitatingly affirm that “Black Lives Matter.” We grieve with protestors and family members the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and too many others as the result of white supremacist ideologies and racist actions. We stand with Christian Cooper and the many other BIPOC who have survived discrimination and oppression. Everyday, these individuals face acts of white entitlement and the effects of micro- and macro- aggressions. We acknowledge the long-entrenched structural violence that is embedded in the legal and law enforcement system; disproportionately impacting BIPOC communities.
As anthropologists, we strongly affirm that the concept of race “…does not provide an accurate representation of human biological variation,” in the past or present as stated by the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Racism has no biological reality. It is socially constructed. Yet racism and prejudice have very real social and biological consequences. Systemic racism impacts BIPOC health and well-being and reinforces economic and social vulnerabilities.
The long-held and ill-intentioned belief in race as a naturally divisive aspect of biology emerged during the 19th Century to justify the enslavement and subjugation of peoples of color and to maintain the privileged position of those in power. The resulting institutional and structural inequalities arising from centuries of the oppression of Black people have shaped discriminatory policies and racist ideologies that persist today.
Any statement of anti-racist solidarity is hollow without sustainable, concrete measures of action to make systemic changes and redress the manifestations of colonialism and racism. As anthropologists, we must turn the critical lens on ourselves. It is important to acknowledge that the field of Anthropology is itself rooted in a history of colonial and divisionary practices. As a department, we reject the continuance of that legacy and actively seek to decolonize anthropological scholarship, teaching, and practices. For example, in early 2020, we eliminated the GRE requirement for our graduate program. We recognize that racial and socioeconomic inequalities are deeply embedded in students’ abilities to access testing and to perform well in standardized testing situations.
Many of our faculty have spent their entire careers working to understand the systemic and underlying causes of inequity, oppression, and marginalization of peoples. Through participatory methods, these faculty seek to give voice to marginalized groups, particularly in the fields of health and the environment. Our faculty acknowledge the colonized nature of scholarship. In order to address this, we regularly require students to read pieces written by a diversity of authors. We openly and critically discuss issues of race and exclusion with students, including contextualizing the construction of social, political, and judicial systems through the oppression of BIPOC. We emphasize the dismantling of such systems.
As continued steps towards acknowledging and confronting racist structures and practices in the nation, the discipline, and the academy, while promoting equity, justice, and diversity and decolonizing our own professional practices, the Idaho State University Department of Anthropology reaffirms our commitment to the following practices:
- Actively and openly listening to our BIPOC students about their lived experiences and making intentional efforts to welcome and support them;
- Recruiting and supporting BIPOC applications to our graduate program;
- Embracing practices and policies supporting diversity of student recruitment and faculty hiring choices;
- Continued training in inclusive teaching practices;
- Further educating our students and the public about human diversity, promoting empathy and tolerance across divides, and engaging and reaching out to our community to provide support of these values in support of antiracism;
- Exercising regular faculty introspection and accountability to critically evaluate our inclusion of BIPOC scholars and scholarship into course syllabi and research agendas. This includes making clear statements of the intent for inclusive teaching in course documents with acknowledgement of the invited, cooperative, and imperfect effort between instructors and students to evolve and grow such a climate;
- Standing by our decision to eliminate GRE exams to provide more equitable access to graduate education.
We refer to sources which expand on this statement from professional anthropological organizations here:
- American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Statement on Race
- Association of Black Anthropologists, Statement Against Police Violence and Anti-Black Racism
- American Anthropological Association, Statement on Race
- Society for American Archaeology, Call to Confront Racial Injustice