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Examples of Quaker Land Acknowledgements

Each traditional Quaker testimony – simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship of resources and the Earth – compels us as Quakers in North America to understand and acknowledge all of the ways that we have participated in and benefitted from the dispossession of Indigenous lands and destruction of Indigenous cultures. In the past and in the present, by things we have done and left undone, we have embraced violence against the Indigenous nations who had no choice about becoming our neighbors.

Land acknowledgments (https://nativegov.org/news/beyond-land-acknowledgment-guide/) are one beginning step in the journey of rejecting this violence, attempting repentance, and accepting accountability to the Indigenous nations whose traditional lands we control. Clear Hearts Quaker Circle is developing our own land acknowledgment, centering our commitment to move beyond performative statements to concrete actions, and mindfully considering the geographical spread of the Friends who participate in our community.

A collection of land acknowledgments from other Quaker communities is included below. These examples are intended to serve as queries for us as part of our own discernment. We will also benefit from sitting with Quaker statements on Indigenous justice and Indian Boarding Schools (https://www.fcnl.org/updates/2022-05/quaker-statements-indigenous-justice-and-indian-boarding-schools), many of which were operated by Quakers.

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Multnomah Friends Meeting (https://www.quakercloud.org/cloud/multnomah-friends-meeting/announcements/multnomah-monthly-meeting-native-land-acknowledgement)

This Meetinghouse occupies homelands belonging since time immemorial to the Chinook-speaking peoples of Multnomah, Clackamas, Cascade/Watlala, and the Kalapuya of Tualatin. Throughout Oregon, land was stolen from tribes through the use of treaties and land grants. In 1850, the land on which the Meetinghouse sits became part of such a land grant. We understand it is incumbent on us to lean into this uncomfortable fact and consider its implications for the Meeting.

We grieve the involvement of earlier Quakers with Indian boarding schools and as Indian agents, and the intergenerational harm inflicted. In an effort toward healing the injustices of the past and present, we commit to educating ourselves about current and historical Indigenous perspectives. We have committed to ongoing financial contributions to the Chinook Indian Nation and support their struggle to regain federal recognition. We join in the call to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery as the “theological” justification for colonialism, land theft, and the brutal and dehumanizing treatment of Indigenous people. We are actively discerning the next steps toward Right Relationship with Indigenous Peoples and the land, and welcome all to join us.

– Guidelines & Suggestions for Land Acknowledgement (https://www.quakercloud.org/system/files/cloud_attachments/GuidelinesSuggestionsforLandAcknowledgement-FINAL.docx)

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Eastside Friends Meeting (https://www.quakercloud.org/cloud/eastside-friends-meeting/pages/land-acknowledgment)

Eastside Friends Meeting house stands on ancestral land of the Sammamish People, who were closely related to the First People of Seattle, the Duwamish. Descendants of the Sammamish today are members of the Suquamish, Snoqualmie, and Tulalip tribes. We honor all these Native communities and their Elders. We appreciate that they have been here since time immemorial, and are still here, continuing to bring light to their ancient heritage. 

We also recognize that American settlers forcibly removed the Sammamish from this land following the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855. The diseases, greed, and violence of settlers decimated Sammamish communities, along with many other local Indigenous communities. This acknowledgment is part of our Meeting’s commitment to moving toward right relations with Indigenous people, through recognition of our own history and responsibility, and through ongoing education and action.

We hold this land acknowledgment as a living document, knowing that the guidance of our indigenous neighbors and of the Holy Spirit may require us to reflect and reconsider our present words.

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Westtown Monthly Meeting (https://www.quakercloud.org/cloud/westtown-monthly-meeting/resources/land-acknowledgement)

This one comes from one of the Lenni Lenape tribes in the Philadelphia YM area. This is the one they would like used. 

“The land upon which we gather is part of the traditional territory of the Lenni-Lenape, called ‘Lenapehoking.’ The Lenape People lived in harmony with one another upon this territory for thousands of years. During the colonial era and early federal period, many were removed west and north, but some also remain among the continuing historical tribal communities of the region: The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation; the Ramapough Lenape Nation; and the Powhatan Renape Nation, The Nanticoke of Millsboro Delaware, and the Lenape of Cheswold Delaware. We acknowledge the Lenni-Lenape as the original people of this land and their continuing relationship with their territory. In our acknowledgment of the continued presence of Lenape people in their homeland, we affirm the aspiration of the great Lenape Chief Tamanend, that there be harmony between the indigenous people of this land and the descendants of the immigrants to this land, ‘as long as the rivers and creeks flow, and the sun, moon, and stars shine.’”

https://nlltribe.com/land-acknowledgement/

The land acknowledgement used by Westtown School at the start of faculty meetings.

Let us recognize and never forget that we are occupying the traditional unceded Lenni Lenape lands. In all that we do, let us pay respect to Lenape elders, past and present.

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Port Townsend Friends Meeting (https://ptquaker.org/land-acknowledgement/)

The water, the land and the shorelines here in the Port Townsend area are the traditional territory of the S’Klallam and Chemakum Peoples. We are thankful for their wisdom and care of the land and acknowledge their way of living with nature, not as land owners, but as grateful children of Mother Earth. We vow to help restore and sustain their homeland and work to build right relations with our native neighbors.

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Boulder Friends Meeting (https://www.boulderfriendsmeeting.org/land-acknowledgement-statement/)

Boulder Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends acknowledges that we live and worship on land where Indigenous Peoples have lived for more than 13,000 years. Chief Nawath (Left Hand) and his band of Arapaho were living in the Boulder Valley under the terms of the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie when gold was discovered in 1858. The Arapaho were forced out of the area, contrary to the terms of the treaty, and a fort was built to protect the booming towns of Boulder and Valmont. In 1864, volunteer militiamen mustered at Boulder’s Fort Chambers and joined U.S. Colonel John Chivington’s forces in carrying out the Sand Creek Massacre. More than 200 Arapaho and Cheyenne people, including Chief Nawath, were killed.

We lament this history of land theft, betrayal, murder, and displacement, knowing that we have become its beneficiaries. We acknowledge Indigenous Peoples’ enduring love for this land and the valuable contributions they make to our community today. We seek ways to build relationships with them now based on truth, respect, justice, and our shared humanity.

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Chapel Hill Friends Meeting (https://www.chapelhillfriends.org/land-acknowledgement.html)

The Chapel Hill Friends Meeting sits on unceded Indigenous land where Occaneechi, Sissipahaw, Shakori, and Eno peoples lived. As Quakers, we acknowledge the genocide and continued displacement of Indigenous peoples during the colonial period and beyond.

In 1672, George Fox visited Carolina and publicly preached that Indigenous community members shared the Light within as, we believe, all humans do. We affirm Fox’s teaching, and we recognize that injustices done to the Indigenous population continue in the present.

Site Heritage:

Artifacts found at Morgan Farm indicate that this area was inhabited almost continuously for the past 10,000 years. A 2004 archaeological exploration in Chapel Hill revealed spear points and potsherds, evidence that hunters as well as settlers lived along Franklin Street from 500 BC to 500 AD. Archaeological digs on Finley Golf Course showed similar proof that these communities hunted, built houses, and grew crops. The earliest recorded presence in our area of Indigenous peoples dates to 1701 when explorer John Lawson wrote “by the time the first settlers arrived, there were no more Indians left in the region.” (Vickers, p. 7-8). Other historians assert that a greatly reduced number of Indigenous remained. Most had migrated north towards Hillsborough and the more active trading paths.

Lord John Carteret, the first Earl of Granville, received his land charter from King Charles II. By the 1730’s colonial settlers began trickling into Granville’s district, including Orange County. They came down the Great Wagon Road connecting modern Petersburg, Virginia and Mobile, Alabama. Mark Morgan was one who settled on the Finley Golf Course land. In 1747, Morgan’s children bought surrounding land to encompass most of Chapel Hill plus territory in present day Durham County and south across Morgan Creek. About 1790, his descendant Hardy Morgan gave 205 acres, including areas now occupied by Carmichael Auditorium, grounds to the east, the cemetery, and Gimghoul Road, to help establish the University of North Carolina. This is the land where Chapel Hill Friends Meeting is located. The University retained ownership until Chapel Hill Friends Meeting bought the land in the 1950’s.

This is a living document, and we will continue to revise and strengthen it in collaboration with community members and as new research evolves.

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Asheville Friends Meeting (https://ashevillefriends.org/PublicStatements/220317AFMLandAcknowledgmentforGatherings.pdf)

The Asheville Friends Meeting acknowledges, with respect, that the land we are on today is ancestral land of the Anikituwagi, (ah nee yun wee YAH) more commonly known as the Cherokee. We also recognize all the varied Indigenous Peoples who have lived in and continue to live in and around these lands.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Asheville Friends Meeting seek to affirm our work together to ensure a strong relationship. Therefore, we commit efforts and resources to the health and priorities of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. As these words are spoken and heard,we renew and reaffirm this property as Cherokee homelands.

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Concord Friends Meeting (https://www.concordfriendsmeeting.org/sites/all/files/documents/CMM-LandAcknowledgement-Dec2020.pdf)

The Concord Friends Meeting is located on N’dakinna, which is the traditional ancestral homeland of the Abenaki, Pennacook and WabanakiPeoples past and present. This land is unceded. We acknowledge and honor with gratitude the land and waterways and the alnobak (people) who have stewarded N’dakinna throughout the generations.

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Friends Meeting Cambridge (https://neym.org/sites/default/files/2021-11/2021-09FMCAcknowledgement.pdf)

We acknowledge that we meet today on the land of the Massachusett people. This living cultural landscape near the banks of the Quinobequin (sometimes called the Charles River) is also dear to theWampanoag and Nipmuc peoples. It has been a place of travel, trade and gathering for many other Algonquin people from time immemorial through today.

We acknowledge that our material sustenance and prosperity is derived from stolen lands, lands from which Indigenous peoples, who have been caretakers of these lands for hundreds of generations, were removed by uninvited European colonists. We sadly acknowledge that the disrespect and attempted cultural erasure that accompanied this removal continue to this day.

We value and honor the wisdom of the Indigenous peoples who have loved and learned from this land, living in harmony with its gifts and needs. We commit to learning to live in reciprocity with this precious place and to listen closely to its rightful caretakers.

We know that this land acknowledgment is but a small, first step towards reconciling our histories. We commit to learning more about the Indigenous peoples where Friends Meeting Cambridge community members live, work and worship. We will seek Spirit’s guidance and follow the leadership of Indigenous teachers as we work diligently to undo the harms of the past and present. We pledge our time and resources to work for healing the wounds of colonialism, advancing Indigenous self-determination and working for equity and right relationship.

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Portland (Maine) Friends Land Acknowledgment (https://neym.org/sites/default/files/2021-10/PortlandLand.pdf)

Today, and every day, we walk on stolen land. We pray on stolen land. The forests, the rivers, the mountains, the meadows. Also the highways, and city buildings, houses, and corner stores. This is what occupation looks like.

We are meeting here in the Dawnland, where the sovereign people of the Wabanaki Confederacy, including the Maliseet, MicMac, Penobscot, and Passamaquoddy, have lived for thousands of years. And the many Abenaki tribes, some destroyed, some scattered. As Quakers, many of our ancestors, both by blood and by spirit, participated in the theft of this land, the separation of children from their families, and the attempt to end indigenous culture.

Today, we mourn the lives and ways of living that were taken. We honor the resilience and power of our Wabanaki neighbors.

As we continue to live and govern in ways that harm this land and its people, it is past time for reparations. For learning the truth. For listening. For taking action. And there is still time. This is our work to do.

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Fort Collins Friends Meeting (https://westernfriend.org/indigenous-land-acknowledgement#:~:text=FortCollinsFriendsMeetingacknowledgeswithrespectthat,gatheringandhealingfornumerousotherNativetribes)

Fort Collins Friends Meeting acknowledges, with respect, that the land we are on today is the traditional ancestral homelands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute Nations and peoples. This was also a site of trade, gathering, and healing for numerous other Native tribes. We recognize the Indigenous peoples as original stewards of this land and all the relatives within it. As these words of acknowledgment are heard, the ties Nations have to their traditional homelands are renewed and reaffirmed.

We recognize that the founding of the Fort Collins community, including the land our Meeting House is built upon, came at a dire cost to Native Nations and peoples including the cost of many lives, loss of ancestral homes, and separation from traditional sources of spiritual and physical nourishment and strength.

2 Comments on “Examples of Quaker Land Acknowledgements

  1. Here is a draft land acknowledgement for Clear Hearts Quaker Circle, to be considered at our next business meeting. (We have already approved a regular financial contribution to Native-led organizations in a previous business meeting, starting at $200 a month, to be increased over time):

    Clear Hearts Quaker Circle is organized in Portland, Oregon, on the ancestral land of the Chinook-speaking peoples of Multnomah, Clackamas, Cascade/Watlala, and the Kayapula of Tualitin. As a community, we mourn the historical and ongoing injustices, including devastating loss of life, cultural traditions, and land, that Indigenous groups have endured and continue to endure at the hands of white settlers and their descendants. We commit to restoring resources and supporting the priorities of the sovereign Indigenous people who live here now.

    As a first step in recognizing our obligations, we are making a regular monthly financial contribution to a Native-led organization that supports the health and housing needs of local Indigenous people. As our community grows and our capacity to support Native organizations increases, we will hold ourselves accountable for increasing our support and building right relationships with the Indigenous community over time.

  2. I have been told that including the names of particular Tribes and Bands is problematic because inevitably others are left out. The history of travel, trade and other movement is complex and although white culture-driven anthropology has recorded names and places for many, there are others that are not mentioned in recorded histories available to non-Indigenous people. Consider “…. the ancestral lands where many Indigenous people lived.” Also consider replacing “settlers” with “colonizers”, which is a preferred term for some of the Indigenous people that I have known or heard speak or read. Reciprocity is extremely important to Indigenous life, and I’d like to see some language to reflect that. Beyond our obligations. Maybe replace the last sentence of the first paragraph with something like “We seek reciprocity with the sovereign Indigenous people that live here now, and with the land, water, air, plants and animals.” (I am not super fond of that wording, but wanted to throw out the concept for consideration.)

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