On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, GBH is making public its Land Acknowledgment and Commitment to Actions, which commit the organization to support Native and Indigenous peoples’ voices, history and stories with dignity; bring visibility to Native and Indigenous issues and concerns by including Native and Indigenous voices in the work we do; and challenge colonialist narratives that have shaped the way history has been taught. Catalyst, GBH’s first employee resource group for BIPOC employees, began this work that created a foundation to build upon. Today, GBH has called upon all of its employees and collaborators to help transform this shared intention into action.
“This statement, developed by a 12-member Land Acknowledgment Committee, is designed to be forward-looking and proactive,“ said Yemisi Oloruntola-Coates, GBH’s Chief Inclusion and Equity Officer and co-chair of the committee.
“During our work, a number of things came to light, most importantly that before we can say the words, we must do the work,” she said. “That is why, more than focusing on the creation of a Land Acknowledgment itself, the committee strived to make a Commitment to Actions.”
Chris Hastings, executive producer at WORLD and co-chair of the committee, noted that the committee aimed to create a thoughtful plan. “We knew that if we really are going to be an antiracist organization, we had to educate ourselves and be careful. This is much more than a statement. The fact that we're talking about action means that we're leaning into our mission as public media.”
All of GBH‘s units, departments and staff will determine ways they can move forward, assisted by a collection of resources, including the committee’s reports, a three-part learning series with Indigenous author and educator Linda Coombs of the Aquinnah band of the Wampanoag, on the Indigenous history of Massachusetts and a recommended reading list. Staff also have been given guidelines derived from “First Nations and Higher Education: The Four R’s—Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, Responsibility,” for reaching out to Indigenous peoples for involvement in projects and stories. They have been taught to honor tenets of Decolonizing Methodologies, such as valuing the timeline for decision-making process, respecting any need for private deliberation, providing space for grieving and encouraging continual negotiation going forward.
Meet the Land Acknowledgment committee members and learn more about the statement and action plan here.