What is a Land Acknowledgement?
A Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories. - Northwestern University
Why do we recognize the land?
"To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose territory you reside on, and a way of honoring the Indigenous people who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial." - Northwestern University
Simply put, land acknowledgement is an important part of our values as Unitarian Universalists in general and as KUUJAN specifically. When we don't know what land we are on, we don't care about who was here before and is still here. When we don't care, we are not making the connection between the long standing history that has brought us to this land and the colonial and white supremacy power structures in which we continue to participate. Read more on this on the UUA website.
But we've been taught that Kentucky was a hunting ground...
That is a myth that is harmful to perpetuate as it absolves us of the truth of ongoing colonialism and white supremacy power structures still at play in our state.
From the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth Land Acknowledgement webpage:
Indigenous peoples have lived on the land now called Kentucky for at least 12,000 years. Over thousands of years, various indigenous nations and cultures have called this place home–many with overlapping histories and territories. Those that avoided/survived forced relocation still have a large presence here, but not an effortless one. The Trail of Tears is only one piece of a very painful history for Natives on the land that would become Kentucky; assimilation and suppression are common experiences that were necessary for survival. For many Native peoples in Kentucky, this meant traditions kept quietly, languages passed on a few words at a time, hidden preservation of connections.
They are still here. In the 2010 Census, there were a recorded 31,335 Native Americans living in Kentucky.
Image Credit: Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
The Cherokee and Shawnee were located throughout Kentucky.
The Osage and Miami peoples ran the northern board from the west to the east.
The Chickasaw, Quapaw, Lakota and Dakota tribes were found in the south-western quadrant of the Commonwealth.
The Yuchi people were located in the south-eastern quadrant.
For more details and information, please refer to Native-Lands.ca.