Land Acknowledgement & DEI

I am a white, straight, cis-gendered and able-bodied male. [mediocre]

I have experienced unequal privilege due to one, or all of these traits. [unfair]

I live on, work on and enjoy life on stolen Indigenous land. [Settler/Colonist]

 

The above traits are not all of WHO I am, but are parts of my identity and existence that I must not ignore, must acknowledge and must understand in order to do what I am able to, so that every person experiences the equality, equity, acknowledgement, respect and dignity they deserve.

 

With the privilege I have experienced, I have been fortunate to enjoy pursuing a life as a photographer. Now, ever more so as I dive deeper into being a professional, I am grateful to be able to afford camera equipment, own a car and travel to photograph the outside world. Not everyone experiences this opportunity. It is with the people and groups who are not able to reach certain outside worlds to experience the beauty and power of nature with whom I hope to share my images and stories.

 

Not everyone has the chance to experience the joy of making art. With the photography lessons and tours I offer, my goal is to one day be able to provide free lessons, tours and camera use to people and groups who are otherwise unable to enjoy the craft.

 

I want to acknowledge every Indigenous Nation, on who's traditional territory I wander and explore, find my joy and create my art. I acknowledge them all as the past, present, and future caretakers of this land.

Every landscape I visit when I am creating images has been visited, lived on, relied upon and enjoyed for centuries. To approach our adventures outside as pioneers, trailblazers, first-comers is to continue thinking of nature with a colonial mindset. I am, along with other European-Americans, not first to explore anywhere in the United States. The first humans walked here and beat us by 11,000 years prior. The original stories and histories (pre-colonial) of these lands are not mine to retell. But they are for me to acknowledge. I want to acknowledge and understand the fact that I am recreating on stolen land. We all should acknowledge this fact.

 

Please take this acknowledgement page as my first step in communicating what we all should be: we are able to play outside on stolen lands due to a racist, hateful and despicable past. It is not my purpose, here, to provide anything more than an acknowledgement of my guilt. Please join me with your doing the same. After that, there are plenty of next steps...

 

-Patrick Aalto

 

(some!) Useful Resources:

  1. Native Land Digital Map - https://native-land.ca/

  2. Unlikely Hikers - https://unlikelyhikers.org/

  3. Vanishing America: Species Extinction, Racial Peril and the Origins of Conservation by Miles A. Powell - http://www.milespowell.org/

  4. Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America - https://www.ijeomaoluo.com/