We see the act of land acknowledgement as a foundation for our work, not an end in itself. This statement is a living document that we use to foster conversations about the land and the spaces we move through.
VOBS operates on the homelands of Indigenous people. We acknowledge that Indigenous people and their languages, cultures and relationships to the land have suffered or been erased due to colonization and racism. Our organization benefits from access to lands afforded to us through historic and current colonization, treaties and designations of public or private spaces. We acknowledge that many Indigenous communities were subjected to forced removal and assimilation that resulted in the deaths of thousands and traumatized those who survived. We understand that Indigenous people and communities continue to face racism and colonialism today.
Voyageur Outward Bound School bears the name of the Voyageurs, French for “boatmen,” who were men employed by trading companies to transport goods by canoe through the Northwoods in service of the European fur trade. Many of these men were French Canadian or Metis (mixed French and Indigenous). The fur trade exploited natural resources and capitalized on waterways and routes used by Indigenous peoples. While some may find the name “Voyageur” harmless or even nostalgic, we also recognize the name may be an unwelcome reminder of colonization and exploitation that harms Indigenous peoples and their cultures.
As an organization, we deeply value the people, land, wildlife, water and air of the places where we live and work, and we are committed to care for them. In Minnesota, our programs and offices operate on the land of Mdewakanton/ Wahpekute Dakota, Ojibwe and Ho-Chunk communities. Our west Texas basecamp is on the land of Jumano Apache, Lipan Apache, Mescalero and Kiikapoi (Kickapoo) people. We recognize that we benefit greatly from access to this land.