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USF Acknowledges Campus Land Belonged To Native American Tribe

Associated Press and WUSF Staff

The University of South Florida is acknowledging that its campus in Tampa is located on land once occupied by the Seminole people and other Native Americans, an admission meant to give context to the Thanksgiving holiday celebrated on Thursday.

The declarationby the university's Department of Anthropology says that many American ideas about the origins of Thanksgiving are “historically inaccurate, reproducing damaging portrayals of Native Americans.”

In response, the USF statement said it is recognizing “the enduring relationship between Indigenous Peoples and lands stolen from them. It is also a commitment to standing in solidarity with them to combat Indigenous erasure.”

The statement says the campus land once was home to the Seminole and other groups including the Calusa and Tocobaga. Also, the Seminole Tribe of Florida has approved the statement and called it a “powerful” statement on Indigenous Sovereignty.

This acknowledgment joins a growing number of institutions across the country issuing land acknowledgmentsto honor native lands.

The department began exploring the issues several years ago, as part of completing its NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) repatriation inventory, which requires institutions to work with Native American tribes and nations on the repatriation and disposition of stolen Native American human remains and sacred objects.

Native Americans were the first people to inhabit the Tampa Bay area. European forces brought disease, slavery and destruction to Indigenous cultures. During the Seminole wars of the 1800s, President Andrew Jackson called for the removal of the Seminole people from the area.

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