Honoring Indigenous and Native Land
“When we talk about land, land is part of who we are. It’s a mixture of our blood, our past, our current, and our future. We carry our ancestors in us, and they’re around us. As you all do.” —Mary Lyons (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe)
The Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion acknowledges that the land our Berklee Boston campus resides on is the ancestral homeland of the Pawtucket, Massachusett, Nipmuc, and Wampanoag tribal nations. We honor these communities and the elders of these nations—past, present, and future—whose practices and spiritualities are tied to the land.
We recognize the enduring relationships between Indigenous communities and the traditional territories that our Berklee campuses and global sites occupy, including New York City, Abu Dhabi, and Valencia.
As a cultural institution, we believe there is an obligation to accurately and responsibly acknowledge the unceded land our institution is built upon. We recognize that American Indian, Native American, indigenous, First Peoples, First Nations, and aboriginal communities are present and alive today, and are not mere relics of history.
The Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is committed to using its institutional positionality to amplify the histories and livelihoods of indigenous peoples, and to working toward dismantling the ongoing legacies of settler colonialism.
What are land acknowledgements?
Land acknowledgements are a small step toward recognizing, respecting, and honoring the original inhabitants of the land on which you currently reside and occupy. Recognition of the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation for the indigenous peoples who have been living and working on the land. It is important to understand the longstanding history that has brought you to it. A land acknowledgement is an initial step in understanding your place within that history, and beginning the journey of breathing life into your obligation as an occupant of the land.
Whose land do you currently live on and occupy?
Individually, you can take your first steps in honoring indigenous and native lands by learning more about the land you currently live on and occupy. Take this step by visiting Native Land Digital’s interactive Native Land map. The map does not represent or intend to represent official or legal boundaries of any indigenous nations, and is an ongoing project.
- What are the names of past and present Indigenous people connected to the land you reside on and occupy?
- What are the correct pronunciations for tribal names and places in your area?
- What is the history of the land?
- How do you make meaning of your place within this history?
- How can you honor indigenous communities in your actions moving forward?
To read more about this issue, view resources from the North American Indian Center of Boston. Established in 1969 as the Boston Indian Council, the North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB) is a nonprofit organization that provides cultural, social, educational, and professional services to the New England Native American community. As the oldest urban Indian center in Massachusetts, its mission is to empower the Native American community with the goal of improving the quality of life of Indigenous peoples.
For more information, see these resources from the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness. Founded in 1989, the mission of the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness (MCNAA) is to assist Native American residents with basic needs and educational expenses; to provide opportunities for cultural and spiritual enrichment; to advance public knowledge and understanding that helps dispel inaccurate information and myths; and to work toward racial equality by addressing some of the inequities across the commonwealth.
See these global highlights from Cultural Survival. Headquartered in Cambridge since 1972, Cultural Survival has partnered with indigenous communities to advance Indigenous peoples' rights and cultures worldwide. The core of its efforts rests on the principles of supporting and amplifying efforts to raise awareness of self-determination for indigenous communities. Cultural Survival participants and members employ a participatory, rights-based approach to their relationships that respect and strengthen indigenous rights, while honoring traditional indigenous worldviews and lifeways.