Acknowledge and Repair: A Conversation About Land Acknowledgement

Episode Fourteen

Just in time for Thanksgiving, Sister Marcelline Koch talks with Illinois State Museum leaders about the growing practice of land acknowledgement in relationship to Indian nations that claim Illinois as home.


Though there are no federally recognized Indian tribes on their own land in Illinois, the region is considered sacred land by 32 nations that prized the healing and restorative properties of Illinois’ waters and medicinal plants. Illinois was in times past a meeting place for sport and community among Native people. Learn more about how the Illinois State Museum is working to repair the wounds of colonization in the 21st state.

About our Guests

Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko joined the Illinois State Museum as director in 2019. Previously she was the director of the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum (Indiana) where she led the organization to the National Medal for Museum Service in 2008. She then served as president and CEO of the Abbe Museum (Maine) where she co-led their decolonization initiative to ensure collaboration with Wabanaki people. Cinnamon has served on numerous national and local boards including American Association for State and Local History and the American Alliance of Museums; she is currently on the board of the Association of Midwest Museums. In 2016, she gave her first TEDx talk, We Must Decolonize Our Museums.

Heather Miller is an enrolled citizen of the Wyandotte Nation. She graduated from Miami University with a Bachelors of Philosophy and then received her Masters of Native American Studies from Montana State University. She began her career working for Hopa Mountain in Montana where she coordinated a program for Native nonprofit organizations to develop their capacity. She worked in Washington with Potlatch Fund and Colorado with First Nations Development Institute, Native American foundations that worked to strengthen the Native nonprofit sector. Most recently, Heather led Chicago’s American Indian Center as their executive director. She has also provided cultural, organizational and strategic planning consulting to nonprofit startups and Tribal entities in Illinois and nationally but being involved with her Tribal Cultural Center on their language revitalization is one of her favorite activities during her free time. She has further developed her skills as a graduate of the Leadership, Apprentice, Economic and Development program through First Nations Development Fund and a graduate of the Cascade Executive Program through the University of Washington. Additional recognitions include 2019 Leaders for a New Chicago Awardee, 2020 Association of Midwest Museums Promising Leader Award and 2020 Crain’s Business 40 under 40.


Download our favorite bits of wisdom from this week's guests to share in social media.

  • Illinois is an important crossroads for Native peoples, considered home for 32 nations who came here for healing, revitalization, and community.
  • Land acknowledgement is most effective in the context of a commitment to repair relationships among peoples.
  • The Illinois State Museum is in conversation with Native peoples about how to respectfully return the bodies of their ancestors currently in storage at the museum.


Listen to music our guests like at this Spotify playlist.


Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko’s TEDx Talk

Illinois State Museum

Decolonizing Museums by Amy Lonetree

The Abbe Museum, Bar Harbor, Maine

About the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act

Potlatch Fund

First Nations Development Institute

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