by Christine Smith, Southcoast Food Policy Council Program Manager
When we talk about the food system, it is with an understanding of how we are connected to the earth and the history of our land. In our SFPC Community Advisory Board meetings, we begin with a Land Acknowledgement, which makes visible the Indigenous peoples that have lived on and worked these lands on which we now reside. We provide the Land Acknowledgement with a sense of humbleness and responsibility since we directly benefit from this land that was not legally given to the Colonies and because we want to honor the truth.
In the 2021 Southcoast Food System Assessment, we have an official land acknowledgment. It reads as follows:
“We cannot talk about food in a place without acknowledging the land from which it comes. We cannot explore the present, or consider the future, without understanding the past, which includes acknowledging the harmful historical legacies that persist within and around us.
Southeastern Massachusetts encompasses the present day counties of Bristol, Norfolk, and Plymouth in the now Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We acknowledge that this land is the traditional unceded territory of the Wôpanâak (Wampanoag) and Massa-adchues-et (Massachusett). Pre-English invasion, this place, its gifts of fertile soil, waters, wildlife, and beauty, had already sustained Indigenous tribes for 12,000 years. We honor and respect the precious food sources discovered, harvested, and cultivated by Native peoples and remain grateful to them for their connectedness to this land and their food traditions.
We make this acknowledgement with intention and accept the responsibility of all we continue to learn. We will honor the resources which sustain us today through their protection. May food be just one of many connections we use in our work to repair relationships with Indigenous people of all Nations living here today.”
In the U.S., there are 574 federally recognized Indigenous Nations. This Thanksgiving, we encourage you to acknowledge the land on which you benefit by bringing the history of the Indigenous Peoples alive through sharing past and current stories, reading books by Indigenous authors, and speaking about the true history that occurred during the early encounters between Native communities and colonizers.