We would like to acknowledge the Indigenous Peoples of, what we now know as, the United States of America, the traditional Custodians of the land of which we speak today. May we celebrate the perseverance of these people and recognize the disparity created by those in positions of power. We would like to pay our respects to the Elders past, present and future. May we continue to consider what paths we have taken as we walk into the future.
Across the United States of America, the majority of Indigenous Peoples (inappropriately known as American Indians) have been displaced and the land their life’s traditions had been built upon was openly stolen. The forced removal and genocide of Indigenous Peoples has happened over generations and even as recently as 2016, have Indigenous Peoples had their land stolen by the government. Often the indigenous Peoples would be pushed into completely new climates where they needed to relearn how to survive in their daily life; their traditional spiritual life was more difficult to adapt within the new climates. Throughout these trials the Indigenous communities rallied to hold a connectedness to their homeland that is celebrated still today. This can be a difficult history to understand but taking the harshness out of the situations paints a picture of half-truths and creates an under informed public.
Land Acknowledgement can be used like a prayer as a celebration of Indigenous communities. It is not intended to be grim but to be a reminder of where we all have come from as humans and as a society. Land Acknowledgement is often said at the start of a meeting or gathering, both formal and informal, much like how this blog post was started. This can be said by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, the importance comes from the time taken to do so in a genuine manner of reflection.
Land Acknowledgement is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose territory people reside upon, and a way of honouring the Indigenous people who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial. It is important to understand the 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.
You may be wondering, “How can we do this in the UK?” The short answer is we cannot. We can honour the culture we are within and the cultures we come from, but those who were on this land originally are not still within our society, they are of the past unlike the Indigenous Peoples of States. I propose instead you focus your energies toward the influence the UK has historically had on the world; it’s involvement in colonialism past, present, and future. The cornerstones of the world stage are still pillars of colonialism. I ask you to look at colonialism with new eyes, not as something unfortunate that happened that we need to move forward from but as something we still need to make conscious effort to change.
We are grateful to Madison, Parish Assistant, for this blog post, arising from a Second Cup gathering in our Lent series on prayers at different occasions from differing cultures.