living land acknowledgment

Living land acknowledgment

We humbly and gratefully acknowledge that Columbia County, New York is predominantly on the ancestral lands of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans, who are the Indigenous people of this land. They were subject to genocide, coerced into assimilation, and forcibly removed from their homelands to what is now known as Wisconsin. They continue to retain their unbroken status as a Sovereign Native Nation. Despite removal, they continue to hold relationships with their homelands and settler communities.

As a land trust and the current steward of this place, CLC understands that access to land is a sacred and collective right. CLC recognizes the Indigenous history of this land, honors ancestors past and present, and supports current efforts to build more equitable spaces for all the human and non-human relatives who call this place home.

Condensed version

We are on the unceded lands of the Mohican people. CLC recognizes the Indigenous history of this land, honors ancestors past and present, and supports current efforts to build more equitable spaces for all the human and non-human relatives who call this place home.

About the land acknowledgment

A committee of CLC staff developed this land acknowledgment. We worked in consultation with the Stockbridge-Munsee Community and an Indigenous expert familiar with this area and shared with relevant sovereign nations with the intent of building relationships.

As such, it is a living document, and never “completed.” It is also impossible for a short statement to convey the complexity and nuance of colonialization. Though this land acknowledgment uses the passive voice phrase “were subject to,” it is important to recognize that the Mohican Nation held power and agency. Their ability to retain their status as a sovereign nation and remain legal owners of their ancestral lands for well over a century after they had become a minority in their own territory is a testament to their skill in diplomacy.

CLC seeks to continue these relationships through learning, humility, and partnerships long into the future. If you have feedback to share about our land acknowledgment, please contact [email protected].

Beyond the land acknowledgment

CLC is dedicated to moving forward in right relationship with the Indigenous communities whose land we currently occupy. In 2023, we have committed to rededicating all funds collected at CLC-owned properties to the Stockbridge-Munsee Community. We are also committed to ensuring Indigenous history is included in the interpretive materials about these properties. We are investigating additional actions to take. These include cultural use easements on protected lands, learning more about Indigenous land management practices, and partnering on programs.

We are also dedicated to putting relationships first. You may not hear immediately about what CLC is working toward with Indigenous partners until an appropriate juncture. If you have ideas or contacts for CLC to consider, please email [email protected].

Conservation’s complicated history

Some would argue that the conservation movement in the United States began in 1901 when Theodore Roosevelt became President.  However, the National Park Service was created in 1872. Yellowstone became the first National Park and charged with protecting 3,472 square miles of pristine land.

The history of conservation in the United States isn’t as simple as one may think. We may be familiar with the creation of the National Parks. However, we often don’t hear about the sordid past that led to the conservation of the parkland. 

The concept of manifest destiny has led to the land’s destruction and violation.  Clearcutting of forests, disruption of natural resources and ecosystems, and removal of the original stewards of the land – the Indigenous people.  While conservation movements in the United States started to preserve the land and protect forests, waterways, and ecosystems, the movement itself left out Indigenous voices and people who had already been working to preserve the land.  Although the National Park Service was created to protect large areas of land, one of the things that it did was sever stewardship between the land and the original stewards. 

Though destruction of land has become more prevalent over the most recent decades with drilling and mining, it has only been now that Indigenous knowledge and teachings have started to be accepted by conservation groups and environmental activists.  When we think about the history of conservation and land protection in the United States, it is also important to remember the original land stewards.

Resources for learning more

History content and resources contributed by

Heather Bruegl (Oneida Nation of Wisconsin/First Line Descendent Stockbridge-Munsee)

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