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Honor Native Land

Equity in the Arts
Marchers carry a red banner that reads "Defend the Sacred"
Marchers at Standing Rock 2016; Photo by Nicholas Ward

The Lark is grateful to the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC), and to all contributing individuals and organizations, for their creation of Honor Native Land: A Guide and Call to Acknowledgment.

As an organization dedicated to providing space for artists from many cultural backgrounds, we want to acknowledge that the building where The Lark is located, in which we gather to share stories, is on the traditional lands of the Lenape People. We pay our respect to the Lenape and other Indigenous caretakers of these lands and waters; and to their elders who have lived here, who live here now, and who will live here in the future. We extend that respect to all Indigenous people who join us for programming at The Lark.


HONOR NATIVE LAND: A GUIDE AND CALL TO ACKNOWLEDGMENT

In countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and among Tribal Nations in the U.S., is is commonplace, even policy, to open events and gatherings by acknowledging the traditional Indigenous inhabitants of that land. While some individuals and cultural and educational institutions in the United States have adopted this custom, the vast majority have not. Together, we can spark a movement to change that.

WE CALL ON ALL INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS TO OPEN PUBLIC EVENTS AND GATHERINGS WITH ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE TRADITIONAL NATIVE INHABITANTS OF THE LAND.

Acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way of showing respect and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture and toward inviting and honoring the truth. Imagine this practice widely adopted: imagine cultural venues, classrooms, conference settings, places of worship, sports stadiums, and town halls, acknowledging traditional lands. Millions would be exposed—many for the first time—to the names of the traditional Indigenous inhabitants of the lands they are on, inspiring them to ongoing awareness and action. 

For more than five hundred years, Native communities across the Americas have demonstrated resilience and resistance in the face of violent efforts to separate them from their land, culture, and each other. They remain at the forefront of movements to protect Mother Earth and the life it sustains. Today, corporate greed and federal policy push agendas to extract wealth from the earth, degrading sacred land in blatant disregard of treaty rights. Acknowledgment is a critical public intervention, a necessary step toward honoring Native communities and enacting the much larger project of decolonization and reconciliation. Join us in adopting, calling for, and spreading this practice.

Download the GuideCreated in partnership with Native allies and organizations, the Guide offers context about the practice of acknowledgment, gives step-by-step instructions for how to begin wherever you are, and provides tips for moving beyond acknowledgment into action.

WHY INTRODUCE THE PRACTICE OF LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENT? 
  • Offer recognition and respect. 
  • Counter the “doctrine of discovery” with the true story of the people who were already here. 
  • Create a broader public awareness of the history that has led to this moment. 
  • Begin to repair relationships with Native communities and with the land. 
  • Support larger truth-telling and reconciliation efforts. 
  • Remind people that colonization an ongoing process, with Native lands still occupied due to deceptive and broken treaties. 
  • Take a cue from Indigenous protocol, opening up space with reverence and respect. 
  • Inspire ongoing action and relationship. 

Acknowledgment by itself is a small gesture. It becomes meaningful when coupled with authentic relationship and informed action. But this beginning can be an opening to greater public consciousness of Native sovereignty and cultural rights, a step toward equitable relationship and reconciliation. 


This Guide and Call was originally posted by the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture. For more information, and to download the complete guide, visit www.usdac.us/nativeland.

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