UCSF Land Acknowledgment
Art: Darby Raymond-Overstreet, Diné
UCSF Land Acknowledgment Statement
Following consultation with members of the Ramaytush Ohlone community as well as campus Indigenous groups, UCSF is pleased to provide the following Land Acknowledgment statement that can be used in oral or written form at events as deemed appropriate. Interested groups and individuals are encouraged to use the following language, without edit:
We would like to acknowledge the Ramaytush Ohlone people, who are the traditional custodians of this land. We pay our respects to the Ramaytush Ohlone elders, past, present, and future who call this place, the land that UCSF sits upon, their home. We are proud to continue their tradition of coming together and growing as a community. We thank the Ramaytush Ohlone community for their stewardship and support, and we look forward to strengthening our ties as we continue our relationship of mutual respect and understanding.
The original peoples of the San Francisco Peninsula were and are referred to as Ramaytush (pronounced "rah-my-toosh"), which is the Chochenyo word meaning "people of the west." The Ramaytush Ohlone are one of around fifty separate tribes collectively referred to as Ohlone (pronounced "oh-low-nee"), an identifier used for all the Costanoan-speaking peoples from the San Francisco Bay to Big Sur.
The Ramaytush spoke one of the three dialects of the San Francisco Bay Costanoan language, which also included Chochenyo and Tamien. Of the approximately 1500 people who originally inhabited the San Francisco Peninsula prior to the Portola Expedition in 1769, only one lineage is known to have survived. Their descendants comprise the four branches of the Ramaytush Ohlone peoples today. The Ramaytush Ohlone of the San Francisco Peninsula lost nearly all of their culture and language, with only about 200 words recorded.
The original people of what is now San Francisco County we refer to today as the Yelamu. The Yelamu were an independent tribe of the Ramaytush Ohlone peoples. The southern boundary of their tribal territory was fairly consistent with the current San Francisco/San Mateo county line. There are no known living descendants of the Yelamu.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Land Acknowledgment?
A land acknowledgment is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous peoples as stewards of the land and highlights the enduring relationships that exist between Indigenous peoples and their traditional territories.
Why do we recognize the land?
To recognize the land is to express gratitude and respect for those upon whose territory we live and work. It acknowledges not only the land but more importantly the original peoples. It reminds us of the history of how we came to reside on the land and of the ongoing process of settler-colonialism that shapes our relationship with the land even today. This in turn helps to create public awareness and inspire future action in support of Indigenous communities.
How was the UCSF Land Acknowledgment statement developed?
Several UCSF campus Indigenous groups, including the Native American Health Alliance (NAHA) and Association for Native American Medical Students (ANAMS), worked with leaders of the Association of Ramaytush Ohlone to develop the UCSF Land Acknowledgment. It was approved in summer 2020 and has been in use by numerous campus groups since then.
What is the effect of this statement on UCSF's plans for development of the campus?
UCSF will continue to build the campus in accordance with its approved Long Range Development Plan, and in accordance with state laws, including the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
When should this statement be used?
The campus community is encouraged to present the land acknowledgment statement at any UCSF event/meeting/lecture held on the UCSF campus. The statement is not appropriate to use at UCSF events outside of San Francisco, as this is not the traditional territory of the Ramaytush Ohlone. In the era of frequent online events and meetings, it is important to remind the audience that the land acknowledgment applies to our location in San Francisco and to encourage participants to learn more about the Indigenous communities in their locations. All UCSF-affiliated campuses (BCH, SFVA, ZSFG) sit upon unceded Indigenous lands.
How should the statement be presented?
The acknowledgment can be spoken with care and respect as part of opening comments and/or included on a printed agenda or materials for an event (see "Resources" below for examples slides and other materials). Hosts are also encouraged to provide further context and to include next steps for participants to be in solidarity with local Indigenous groups. For suggestions, see "How Can I Get Involved?" below.
Where Can I Learn More?
Association of Ramaytush Ohlone website:
US Department of Arts and Culture "Honor Native Land" Project:
Native-Land.ca website and app with map of Indigenous territories across the world:
"Are You Planning to Do a Land Acknowledgment?" by Dr. Debbie Reese:
"What Good is a Land Acknowledgment?" by Dr. Cutcha Risling Baldy:
How Can I Get Involved?
There are many ways to support and stand in solidarity with Indigenous groups in the Bay Area and beyond.
Start by educating yourself about Indigenous history and current events impacting Indigenous groups both locally and across the country.
Challenge the colonial narrative in U.S. history, for example, the stories of "Columbus Day" and "Thanksgiving."
Support local land rematriation efforts:
Join in campus events hosted by campus Indigenous groups:
NAHA: Native American Health Alliance on the Diversity Hub
Download example slides for your next meeting or event here.
Consider including the following statement in your email signature.
- UCSF sits upon the traditional unceded lands of the Ramaytush Ohlone peoples.