Acknowledgment Statements

A review of history can highlight the shortcomings of the behavior of a community in the past, and guide that community to become more faithful to its values in the future. In this sense, the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum (henceforth KU BI/NHM) acknowledges the ways in which its past has not aligned well with its current values. This acknowledgment is intended to guide KUBI towards becoming a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive entity.

Land

We acknowledge that KU BI/NHM is located on the lands of peoples whose ancestors resided here since time immemorial. We are dedicated to ethical research practices that promote land stewardship, and we make efforts to support the land and its original occupants.

We acknowledge that KUBI is located on the ancestral homelands of numerous Tribal Nations, including the Pawnee, Witchita, Kaw, Osage, and Kickapoo. This land was historically inhabited by these and other Indigenous peoples, before it was forcibly ceded to U.S. settlers. We recognize the historical and standing relationship of Indigenous peoples to this land and its importance in Indigenous identities, cultures, and languages.

We also acknowledge that the Lawrence area in eastern Kansas included historical reservations for the forced resettlement of the Shawnee, Sac and Fox, Delaware, Peoria, Ottawa, and other Nations, with many of those people again removed forcibly decades later. The Tribal Nations federally recognized in Kansas today are the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas, Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska, and the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska. There are other Indigenous people for whom Kansas represents their ancestral, resettled, or current homeland.

In recognition of the importance of land, the KU BI/NHM is committed to ethical research practices that minimize harm to the land and promote its stewardship. We will continue and expand our efforts to involve and support the source communities and original occupants of the lands on which we work.

Science

We acknowledge that our scientific study of nature too often excludes other people’s perspectives or rights. We strive to practice science in ways that are respectful and inclusive.

Science has broad and diverse roots, and different cultures have different ways of understanding nature. A European-derived scientific tradition has come to dominate formal science and academic scholarship, which creates inequities. KU BI/NHM strives to correct these problems when we perceive them, and to develop fair and balanced collaborations locally and globally.

Specifically, scientists based in dominant cultures often have been disrespectful of colleagues from different backgrounds, practicing so-called “parachute science." These inequities in how science is done are manifested on global and local scales, in the form of regional differences in resource access, capacity, and opportunities for education. KU BI/NHM strives to correct these and other inequities by promoting respectful collaborations and opportunities for all our partners. This includes awareness of the need to cite relevant local or traditional knowledge when appropriate and to perform field work in ways that are respectful and inclusive. Moreover, we are committed to open models of resource and information sharing, and strive whenever possible to publish our research in fully open and accessible journals. Our specimen databases are open and accessible to the extent permitted by regulatory agencies.

Collections

Our collections are a rich resource of information about life on Earth. However, some specimens were obtained in ways that we, today, may find unacceptable. We are committed to legal, ethical, and collaborative collecting and holding of specimens.

Our scientific work is based on collections. Since the KU BI/NHM community values diversity, respect, and inclusivity, when we find that our collections include objects with a history or context that conflicts with our values, we take ethical and legal measures to correct the situation. This applies to all KU BI/NHM specimens, but particularly to human ancestral remains and cultural objects in the Archaeology collections, as outlined in NAGPRA legislation.

Specimen collection is an expensive and logistically challenging endeavor that yields an indispensable resource for studying and conserving life on Earth. Developing collections requires collaborative efforts among KU BI/NHM scientists, external scientists, local residents, and government agencies. We strive to share the benefits of specimen collection (e.g., scientific research insights, the specimens per se, conservation information, academic credit, etc.) equitably with all concerned.

Exhibits, Public Education, Outreach & Communications

We acknowledge that some KU BI/NHM communication of science to the public has been culturally biased and exclusionary. We strive to share science in ways that are accurate, respectful, and inclusive.

KU BI/NHM, in particular via the Natural History Museum, shares scientific research and collections with public audiences through diverse exhibits, programming, and other forms of engagement. We acknowledge that biases and inequities can be found in educational efforts, including how information is presented and what content and perspectives are included or excluded in displays. Equity in education and scientific communication is increased through intentional improvement in accessibility and inclusion, changing displays to align with present values, prioritizing educational efforts to engage and include underserved and underrepresented communities, and making space for alternative perspectives. KU BI/NHM is dedicated to increasing equity in education and communication with the broader public via intentional improvement in accessibility and inclusion, changing displays to align with present values, prioritizing educational efforts to engage and include underserved and underrepresented communities, and creating spaces for alternative perspectives.