The following statement was introduced during the Fall Congregational Meeting, Sunday, November 20, 2021. The congregation voted to affirm it at our Annual Meeting on Sunday, January 30, 2022.
We, gathered here, acknowledge that we are meeting on land which has been the traditional ancestral homeland of the Massachusett people. We acknowledge that this land is unceded and remains sacred to the Massachusett, and to their close neighbors and relatives, the Nipmuc and Wampanoag peoples.* We acknowledge and deplore the violence and erasure perpetrated upon Indigenous peoples and their lands in the name of this country, and by our First Church forebears. We commit to ongoing listening, learning and acting in ways that honor Indigenous peoples and the land.
In addition, we grieve and repent of First Church’s complicity with the living legacy of settler colonialism and slavery. We know that First Church families offered financial support to the colonists during Pometacomet’s Resistance, otherwise known as King Philip’s War. Our 18th century records show that First Church members enslaved Indigenous and African persons. In 1755, Lieutenant Governor of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay and First Church member Spencer Phips authored and signed the Phips Bounty Proclamation, which legalized the hunting, capture, and scalping of Penobscot and other Indigenous people. We also repudiate the 1452 Doctrine of Discovery that shamefully offered a legal and theological rationale for centuries of colonization, land theft and genocide by our Christian forebears. We consider the above land acknowledgment very much a “work in progress” as we continue to listen and learn about our history and work towards healing and repair.
* Our original statement used the word “Nations” but we have since learned that there is conversation amidst the Nipmuc about how different local communities are choosing to self-identify.
SHORT VERSION (first two sentences):
We, gathered here, acknowledge that we are meeting on land which has been the traditional ancestral homeland of the Massachusett people. We acknowledge that this land is unceded and remains sacred to the Massachusett, and to their close neighbors and relatives, the Nipmuc and Wampanoag peoples.
IDEAS FOR SHARING THIS LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENT
- Print in Sunday bulletin.
- Verbalize once a month in Sunday worship.
- Verbalize roughly once a quarter, with context and links to specific opportunities for action or relationship building in solidarity with Indigenous peoples.
- Annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day acknowledgment
- Signs in building
- Make available to Executive Council and other leaders to use at meetings and events.