What is a Land Acknowledgment?
A Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories.
Why do we recognize the land?
To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose territory you reside on, and a way of honoring the Indigenous people who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial. It is important to understand the long-standing history that has brought you to reside on the land, and to seek to understand your place within that history.
Land acknowledgements do not exist in a past tense, or historical context: colonialism is a current ongoing process, and we need to build our mindfulness of our present participation. It is also worth noting that acknowledging the land is Indigenous protocol.
ACPA19 Boston Land Acknowledgement
Related to our mission of supporting and fostering learning through the generation and dissemination of knowledge, ACPA-College Student Educators International would like to acknowledge that the land we are meeting on today is the original homelands of the Mashpee Wampanoag, Aquinnah Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and Massachusett tribal nations. We acknowledge the painful history of genocide and forced removal from this territory, and we honor and respect the many diverse Indigenous peoples still connected to this land on which we gather.
Mashpee Wampanoag (MASH-PEE WAUM-PAH-NOG)
Aquinnah Wampanoag (AH-QUIN-NAH WAUM-PAH-NOG)
The Mashpee Wampanoag (MASH-PEE WAUM-PAH-NOG) Tribe is located on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, also known as the People of the First Light, has inhabited present day Massachusetts and Eastern Rhode Island for more than 12,000 years. After an arduous process lasting more than three decades, the Mashpee Wampanoag were re-acknowledged as a federally recognized tribe in 2007. In 2015, the federal government declared 150 acres of land in Mashpee and 170 acres of land in Taunton as the Tribe’s initial reservation, on which the Tribe can exercise its full tribal sovereignty rights. The Mashpee tribe currently has approximately 2,600 enrolled citizens.
The Aquinnah Wampanoag (AH-QUIN-NAH WAUM-PAH-NOG) Tribe of Gay Head is based on Martha’s Vineyard. The last great North American glacier began its retreat some 10,000 years ago, leaving behind the accumulation of boulders, sand, and clay that is now known as Martha’s Vineyard. The ancestors of Wampanoag people have lived for at least 10,000 years at Aquinnah (Gay Head) and throughout the island of Noepe (Martha’s Vineyard), pursuing a traditional economy based on fishing and agriculture. The Aquinnah Wampanoag share the belief that the giant Moshup created Noepe and the neighboring islands, taught the people how to fish and to catch whales, and still presides over their destinies. Their beliefs and a hundred million years of history are imprinted in the colorful clay cliffs of Aquinnah. In 1972 the “Wampanoag Tribal Council of Gay Head, Inc.” was formed to promote self-determination, to ensure preservation and continuation of Wampanoag history and culture, to achieve federal recognition for the tribe, and to seek the return of tribal lands to the Wampanoag people. The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) became a federally acknowledged tribe on April 10, 1987 through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
The Nipmuc (NIP-MUCK) people are the tribal group occupying the central part of Massachusetts, northeastern Connecticut and northwestern Rhode Island. The Nipmuc Nation is a state-recognized band with approximately 500 enrolled members today based at the Hassanamisco Reservation (in Grafton, MA). This small 3-acre reservation is the only parcel of Nipmuc land never to have changed hands; its occupation by Nipmuc people dates back to before contact and colonization. The Nipmuc Indians of Massachusetts have several bands today, including the Chaubunagungamaug of Webster and Natick Nipmuc of Natick, in addition to the Nipmuc Nation.
The Massachusett (MASS-SAH-CHOO-SET) are a Native American people who historically lived in areas surrounding Massachusetts Bay, as well as northeast and southern Massachusetts in what is now the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including present-day Greater Boston. Tribal members spoke the Massachusett language, which is part of the Algonquian language family. The present-day U.S state of Massachusetts is named after the tribe. The name Massachusett means “people of the great hills,” referring to the Blue Hills south of Boston Harbor. Descendants of the Massachusett continue to inhabit the Greater Boston area, but they are not a federally recognized tribe.
More Indigenous Tribes in the New England Area:
Abenaki Tribe | Eastern Pequot Nation | Golden Hill Paugussett Indian Tribe | Haudenosaunee Confederacy | Maliseet Indians | Mashantucket Pequot Nation | Mi’kmaq Indians | Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut | Narragansett Indian Tribe | Nipmuc Indian Association of Connecticut | Passamaquoddy Tribes of Maine | Penobscot Nation | Schaghticoke Tribal Nation | Shinnecock Indian Nation | Unkechaug Indian Nation
New England Area Intertribal Organizations:
Acquidneck Island Intertribal Indian Council | Affiliated Tribes of New England Indians | Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes | Gedakina, Inc. Native American Experiential Outdoor Education and Leadership Development
Local Indigenous Support Organizations:
Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs | North American Indian Center of Boston | American Indian Community House | Flying Eagle Woman Fund | Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness, Inc. | Native American Lifelines of Boston (Indian Health Services) | Indigenous Peoples Day Massachusetts | United American Indians of New England
Local Indigenous University Programs & Organizations
Harvard University Native American Program | UMASS Boston Institute for New England Native Studies | Amherst Holy Oak Five Colleges Native Studies Group | Suffolk University Boston Indigenous Peoples Rights Clinic