This past September, I added a component called “land acknowledgment” to our Sunday worship. The words I use have been evolving; these are the words I have used most recently:
We begin our service by acknowledging that wherever each of us is watching, if we are in what is now called the United States, then we are on land stolen from indigenous peoples.
Our congregational home in what is now called Escondido is on land that is part of the traditional territories of the 12 bands of the Kumeyaay Nation and the 7 bands of the Payómkawichum, also called Luiseño.
Land that is sacred to us now was stolen from people for whom that land is also sacred.
In recognition that we are the beneficiaries of a history of colonialism, we have made financial donations in the past year to two local, indigenous-led organizations: California Indian Legal Services and the Kumeyaay Diegueno Land Conservancy. It is our hope at Chalice to find our way to right relationship with local tribes.
Sometimes I lead the land acknowledgment, and sometimes it is one of our congregants who has written their own words to mark this moment of the service.
For many of us, the commitment to acknowledging land was strengthened after attending the UUA General Assembly last year, which had a particular focus on the justice issues facing indigenous peoples.
Several of you have thanked me for the addition of this acknowledgment, noting that it has got you thinking in some new ways. I was glad to hear that, as I had no expectations beyond wanting to offer the land acknowledgment as a thoughtful practice.
One of you recently shared on Facebook the discovery of a great page there called “Native North American Indian – Old Photos” (@NNAIOP). The page features photographs sorted into albums by tribe, and we found albums for both the Kumeyaay and Luiseño peoples. The photos are wonderful to view, but even better is reading the comments of people who recognize relatives and neighbors.
I encourage you to spend some time there looking at photos. It is one way to start to get to know our neighbors a bit better.