We are thankful to Heather Miller, Executive Director of the American Indian Center in Chicago, and Rev. Danira Parra, of Dayspring Native American United Methodist Church, for presenting these land acknowledgments at our Chicago and Central Illinois Annual Celebration & Fundraiser in December 2019. We invite you to reflect on your own relationship with the land and the history of the peoples who call it home.
In recent years it has become a trend to acknowledge the traditional homelands of the indigenous peoples of a particular area through a land acknowledgment. This type of activity is designed to bring more awareness and understanding of the history of indigenous peoples and their territories. But a land acknowledgment should also be more than that; it should be a call to rethink one’s own relationship with the environment and the histories of all peoples. In partnership, the American Indian Center and Faith in Place have crafted the following land acknowledgment to help all rethink their relationships with the city, the land, and the environment.
This acknowledgment demonstrates a commitment to beginning the process of working to dismantle the ongoing legacies of settler colonialism.
Chicago is the traditional homelands of the Council of the Three Fires: The Odawa, Ojibwe and Potawatomi Nations. Many other Tribes like the Miami, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sac, and Fox also called this area home. Located at the intersection of several great waterways, the land naturally became a site of travel and healing for many Tribes. American Indians continue to call this area home and now Chicago is home to the sixth-largest Urban American Indian community that still practices their heritage, traditions and care for the land and waterways. Today, Chicago continues to be a place that calls many people from diverse backgrounds to live and gather here. Despite the many changes the city has experienced, both our American Indian and Faith in Place community see the importance of the land and this place that has always been a city home to many diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
I would like to begin today by recognizing and acknowledging that we are on the lands of the Peoria, Kaskaskia, Piankashaw, Wea, Miami, Mascoutin, Odawa, Sauk, Mesquaki, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Chickasaw Nations. These lands were the traditional territory of these Native Nations prior to their forced removal; these lands continue to carry the stories of these Nations and their struggles for survival and identity.
As "people of faith, caring for Earth", Faith in Place has a particular responsibility to acknowledge the peoples of these lands, as well as the histories of dispossession in which faith communities have participated. We are also obligated to reflect on and actively address the environmental injustice that is part of that legacy. This acknowledgement and the centering of Native peoples is a start as we move forward in faith, love and hope, into our shared future.