Dear Dinosaur Advice Column

Got questions about Robert's Rules of Order? Ann Macfarlane is a dinosaur who knows her stuff. She explains the complexity of Robert's Rules so it makes sense. She loves hearing from readers with their questions about Robert's Rules of Order.

Can we amend land acknowledgement motion to include national anthem and state song?

© Can Stock Photo/andrewgenn

Dear Dinosaur: Our school board will be passing a resolution to institute a protocol for a Native Land Acknowledgement at school events. A board member plans to move to amend the motion to have it apply to our national anthem and state song. Can they do this?

Answer:  According to Robert’s Rules of Order, amendments are allowable which change the intent of the original motion, as long as they are germane (relevant). The chair rules on whether an amendment may be entertained, subject to appeal to the group.

The question of germaneness is a subjective one. If one considers that the intent of the motion is to establish a land acknowledgement, then the other two items are not germane. If one considers that the intent is to establish a ceremonial opening to the meeting, then the other two items are germane. Ultimately it is the group that will decide.

Note that Jurassic Parliament recommends that groups adopt a special rule limiting which amendments can be made. Our suggested language:

No amendment to any motion will be allowed which changes the intent of the original motion.

You can read more about this in our blog post, Extra rules to add to Robert’s Rules.

Dear Dinosaur provides simple, practical answers to questions about Robert’s Rules and parliamentary procedure. Send your questions to Dear Dinosaur here. Our answers are based on Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, 12th edition. As always, nothing in this post constitutes legal or business advice. For specific issues, seek a qualified authority.

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Ann Macfarlane

Ann G. Macfarlane is a Professional Registered Parliamentarian. She offers an interactive and user-friendly way to master the key points for effective, efficient and fair meetings. Her background as a diplomat and Russian translator enables her to connect with elected officials and nonprofit board directors and give them the tools they need for success. She is the author of Mastering Council Meetings: A guidebook for elected officials and local governments.


  1. timi on October 19, 2023 at 11:06 am

    As always Ann I appreciate your direct responses that make so much sense. thanks, timi

    • Ann Macfarlane on October 19, 2023 at 11:25 am

      Thank you so much for these kind words, Timi!