Land Acknowledgement

This land recognition statement is created by the Indigenous NH Collaborative Collective in consultation with local Tribal leaders and Indigenous peoples elsewhere. This statement is dynamic and may change depending on the changing goals of the Collective. At this time, we fight the invisibility of Indigenous peoples in the state of NH and call on you to join us in adopting this statement or creating your own that reflects local Indigenous peoples’, past and present, lasting connection to and stewardship of the land and waterways in what we now refer to as the state of New Hampshire. Further, since we aim to participate in lifting up local Indigenous cultural heritage, we adopt some Abenaki (a dialect of the Algonquian language family) terms in the statement. This is a current proposed version: 

“This talk/event/performance/etc. takes place on (or this library/school/theater/etc. is located on) N’dakinna, which is the traditional ancestral homeland of the Abenaki, Pennacook and Wabanaki Peoples past and present. We acknowledge and honor with gratitude the land and waterways and the alnobak (people) who have stewarded N’dakinna throughout the generations.”

You can add (1) that some of these peoples are currently lacking federal recognition; and (2) that this land continues to be unceded.  We strongly encourage you to research Indigenous names of the land and waterways you reside on and explore their meaning. To customize the land acknowledgement to your specific town or region, you can include a description of the Indigenous meaning of the place name(s). See our post “Place-names Divide Indigenous Communities in New England” for more information on the significance of place names. See this Canadian helpful website for identifying Indigenous lands you reside on. Acknowledging the land is always an educational opportunity.

Land Acknowledgement at the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH
Land Acknowledgement at the People of the Dawnland exhibit
at Strawbery Banke Museum, Portsmouth, NH

Additional Articles

Read more about the #HonorNativeLand movement and the call from the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture to open public events and gatherings with acknowledgment of the traditional Native inhabitants of the land: https://usdac.us/nativeland

Read more about the importance of and some problems with land acknowledgments: https://apihtawikosisan.com/2016/09/beyond-territorial-acknowledgments/ “If we think of territorial acknowledgments as sites of potential disruption, they can be transformative acts that to some extent undo Indigenous erasure. I believe this is true as long as these acknowledgments discomfit both those speaking and hearing the words. The fact of Indigenous presence should force non-Indigenous peoples to confront their own place on these lands.”

“[C]olleges and universities in the U.S. often occupy land that was once home to Native American communities.” The acknowledgement of the native tribes that were dispossessed of their land is a step toward changing college campuses’ colonial environments by rewriting an existing colonialized history of any campus and, sometimes, honoring the Indigenous peoples by erecting buildings referencing their heritage with an intention of researching ancestral cultures and languages of these indigenous communities. https://www.insightintodiversity.com/acknowledging-native-land-is-a-step-against-indigenous-erasure/ (Accessed March 13th, 2020)

“Maybe every Canadian needs to write her own acknowledgment. Maybe we all need a personal rendering of the atonement we impossibly dream of attaining.” Sometimes land acknowledgments can be empty gestures since a very little attention or respect given to the actual Indigenous peoples whose lands are supposed to be recognized (e.g., Canada). https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/canadas-impossible-acknowledgment (Accessed March 13th, 2020)

Violations of Indigenous peoples’ rights are widespread and systematic. The UN Rapporteur investigates international leaders’ views on indigenous rights and whether they believe their countries have policies in place to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples. https://www.un.org/press/en/2010/hr5016.doc.htm (Accessed March 13th, 2020)

Land acknowledgement “has to go beyond just a tokenized gesture.” What does land recognition really mean? The action itself can be empty and insignificant, because Native peoples are still disrespected by mispronouncing their names and, more importantly, through a dominant colonial narrative of historical events. This article reviews some ways people can make land recognitions more meaningful. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-has-indigenous-land-acknowledgment-at-public-gatherings-become-an/ (Accessed March 13th, 2020)

Canada has been making land acknowledgements references in their national anthem and within public schools and popular sports. Yet, these could be empty gestures. The non-indigenous communities aren’t understanding the meaning of these gestures and are merely following along in an effort of complacency. Although land acknowledgments are meant to bring attention to issues facing native communities indigenous to the land, but this is rarely the case. https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2017/12/27/are-indigenous-acknowledgements-a-step-forward-or-an-empty-gesture.html (Accessed March 13th, 2020)

Bates college is dealing with ethics of land acknowledging. Land acknowledgement statements can help the Bates to relinquish responsibility its role in colonization, settler colonialism and subsequent wrongdoings. https://thebatesstudent.com/2020/02/05/does-bates-deserve-a-land-acknowledgement/ (Accessed March 13th, 2020)

“Chances are you have heard land acknowledgements recited at many of these universities, formal statements that recognize the Indigenous peoples who formerly possessed the lands those colleges now stand on. What many of these statements miss is that land-grant universities were built not just on Indigenous land, but with Indigenous land. It’s a common misconception, for instance, that the Morrill Act grants were used only for campuses. In fact, the grants were as big or bigger than major cities, and were often located hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their beneficiaries.” https://www.hcn.org/issues/52.4/indigenous-affairs-education-land-grab-universities (Accessed March 30, 2020)

“There are many important questions or ideas to consider:

  • Reflect on why you are doing a LA. What’s the goal? Why is it important to you and your institution?
  • Who is in the group or committee devising this LA? Who isn’t at the table?
  • Whose land are you on? Who are the First or Indigenous Peoples? Who are the federally recognized (state) tribal nation(s) in the area you are referencing? Is the Indigenous community not recognized but still there? Who can you invite from these communities to acknowledge the land and their relationship to this place over time?”
    https://www.tomaquagmuseum.org/belongingsblog/2020/3/22/a-guide-for-land-acknowledgements-by-lorn-spears (Accessed April 10, 2020)