In the six states of the Northeast we are all living on stolen Native homelands.
There are a host of ways in which state governments, towns, faith communities, and other groups can begin to acknowledge this fundamental truth – and take steps towards redressing 400 years of violence, land theft, and cultural genocide towards our Native neighbors.
Acknowledging the Truth
These steps are an important step. They can also be hollow and disrespectful unless they are accompanied by concrete actions to change our relationship with the Native peoples living among us and support Native-led efforts for rights, respect, and land.
Many groups now make a regular practice of speaking a land acknowledgment at the beginning of meetings, gatherings, religious services, and classes. It is appropriate for the host or leader of the event to speak this acknowledgment.
Here is one example of one such land acknowledgment that comes from David Brule, Nehantic president of Nolumbeka Project:
Acknowledging Indigenous Land (referring to the contemporary Franklin, Hampshire, Hamden Counties region)
“We want to acknowledge that we are standing on, and benefiting from land that has been seized, expropriated, and stolen from Indigenous peoples.
For thousands of years, this has been Pocumtuck land. This is still the homelands of the Pocumtuck, Norwottock, Woronoco, Agawam, Nipmuck, Abenaki.
These Native peoples and their descendants are still living here among us.
Every time we gather here we must acknowledge and respect that fact.”
Five Colleges land acknowledgment: https://www.fivecolleges.edu/natam/about-kwinitekw
“I’d like to begin this event by acknowledging that we stand on Nonotuck land. I’d also like to acknowledge our neighboring Indigenous nations: the Nipmuc and the Wampanoag to the East, the Mohegan and Pequot to the South, the Mohican to the West, and the Abenaki to the North.
Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery https://doctrineofdiscovery.org/faith-communities/
Letters of Apology
A letter of apology is an acknowledgment by a group of people that they wronged another group.
Some examples of restorative action to move towards right relationship with Native peoples
- 1% Native Land Reparation pledge https://www.peaceabbey.org/reparation
- First Nations Development Institute https://www.firstnations.org
- “Native American Land Taxes: A Step on the Roadmap toward Reparations”
- Seneca Nation of Indians Economic Development Company (SNIEDC) http://www.sniedc.org