What is the purpose of an Indigenous Land Acknowledgement?
A land acknowledgement is a statement, read aloud at the beginning of a program, meeting or public event, which recognizes, respects and affirms the deep and enduring relationship between Indigenous People and their traditional lands or territories. Acknowledgements also raise awareness about Indigenous histories, perspectives and experiences that have either been suppressed or forgotten.
A land acknowledgement is more than just a historic statement that belongs in the past. Reading a land acknowledgement enables us to honor and elevate Native groups’ connection to the land we currently reside on, and their present-day participation in society. A land acknowledgement begins with a statement and should be coupled with ongoing efforts to build and sustain authentic relationships with Indigenous communities and informed collective action.
To learn more about Indigenous history involving the Town of Winchester, see the Winchester Archival Center page, “People of Winchester” at https://www.winchester.us/496/People-of-Winchester#natives
Select Board Land Acknowledgement
As one step toward carrying out our equity and anti-racism initiative, I would like to acknowledge that we are holding this meeting on the ancestral homeland of the Massachusett people, who
lived here for thousands of years before European colonists began arriving about 1630.
In the 1600’s, the Massachusett were led by the Saunkswa of Missitekw (called the Squaw Sachem by the colonists), who led her people through epidemics, wars, and displacement. We acknowledge that Winchester exists within a region where lands were taken under unjust and violent circumstances, causing a forced relocation that continues to have harmful effects on native communities.
As part of the town government of Winchester, we recognize our responsibility, now, to be good stewards of this land.
And we acknowledge that Massachusett, Wampanoag, and other Indigenous people from across the country currently live in Winchester and throughout the state and contribute to our community in myriad ways.