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What is a Land Acknowledgement?

I remember the first conference I was in when I heard one. A guy at the start explained how the land beneath our very feet was once inhabited by Indigenous people – he named the tribes – and he explained that the land had been taken.

Wow, I thought to myself. That’s pretty rad. Turns out land acknowledgements aren’t actually so radical these days. They are showing up at conferences and meetings more frequently. Yet they are not to be done lightly. And there is good advice from Indigenous sources on why and how to do a land acknowledgement. Here’s a very helpful article called Acknowledging the Land written by Maria Girouard, Executive Director of Wabanaki Reach. And here’s an article called How To Make A Land Acknowledgment published by the Duwamish Tribe out west.

To me, it’s a pause to pay respect to those who came before me. I have a remarkable lifestyle today. On stolen land. The least I can do is acknowledge that. Out loud. And it’s also a shout-out to descendants with us today. There are many here among us.

You may not be ready to start meetings with an announcement that you are on stolen land, but do you know how the land beneath your feet passed from Indigenous people to the current owner? For me, learning the local history helped me acknowledge some hard truths, even if just to myself.

<—- Written by Indigenous author Nancy (Coffin) Lecompte (aka Canyon Wolf), this book is available from the Androscoggin Historical Society

2 thoughts on “What is a Land Acknowledgement?

  1. What would be helpful, I think, would be a listing of all towns in Maine and the Indigenous tribe(s) who were on the land before settlements and colonization.

    That way folks would have an easy way to incorporate Land Acknowledgements into their meetings etc.

  2. I changed some words from the original post when I heard from someone that “died for my freedom” might seem like people died voluntarily OR that people dying is necessary for freedom. I don’t believe or wish to imply either of these things so changed the words to “came before me.”

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