New People and Land Acknowledgement

From members of the UCC Truth and Healing around Colonization Group:

Over the past two years we have been educating ourselves on issues related to our country’s colonization and our Indigenous neighbors.  This has included book groups, guest speakers, trips to the CSKT Tribal headquarters in Pablo, discussion.

For example, we have discussed several articles about Land Acknowledgments, studied Land Acknowledgments from various congregations, and learned the history of the one currently used at UCC — it was adapted from UM’s by Pastors Laura Folkwein and Jennifer Yocum.

Much of our discussion has been about whether we might try out a different land acknowledgement—about our values and how we might give more authentic expression to them—how we might more powerfully take responsibility and commit ourselves to allyship and action. This discussion led us to work collaboratively on drafting and redrafting a new Acknowledgement.

This work leads us to invite you to embark on an experiment with us. To try living into this Acknowledgement together over the next few months. In Pastor John’s words from his January 21st sermon: to make space for it, engaging in reflection and conversation around it. Please consider contributing to that conversation. In the pews you will find slips of paper on which you might share responses to it; or, you might talk with one of us during coffee; and on Feb 11, we will also hold a listening session at 11:30 in the sanctuary to share impressions.

We want to call attention to three aspects of the new Acknowledgement, included below:

·      This is not just a Land Acknowledgement.  We also acknowledge the people who lived and live on this land, and their activities: a People and Land Acknowledgement.

·      We have included the accurate tribal names rather than the colonized names.

·      There is a call to action at the end of this People and Land Acknowledgement.

In the interest of truth and healing, we the people of University Congregational Church acknowledge that our church is built on lands taken from Séliš and Ql̓ispé people. They cherished and cared for this land as their home, a place for trade, raising families, sharing their stories, as well as for ceremonial purposes. Having witnessed the historical and ongoing harm done by colonization to Indigenous lifeways, cultures, and the land, we want to learn from the original stewards of this place. We commit ourselves to being allies and taking action to work toward a more just and equitable future.