Pitt Sustainability’s Land Acknowledgement
We recognize that the University of Pittsburgh occupies the ancestral land of the Adena culture, Hopewell culture, and Monongahela peoples, who were later joined by refugees of other tribes (including the Delaware, Shawnee, and Haudenosaunee), driven here from their homelands by colonizers. We honor these traditional Native inhabitants of this place and uplift their historic, unique, and enduring relationship with this land, which is their ancestral territory. We pay our respects to their Elders and their past, present, and future people, community, and culture. While we cannot change the past, we commit to continued gratitude for the gifts of nature, along with ongoing respect, care, and stewardship of the land, each other, and future generations.
Why Do We Do a Land Acknowledgement?
As the U.S. continues to reckon with the history of its indigenous peoples, land acknowledgements have become more common. Land acknowledgments help recognize indigenous peoples’ “resilience and resistance in the face of violent efforts to separate them from their land” (U.S. Dept of Arts & Cuture). Between 1776 and 1887, the United States. seized over 1.5 billion acres from America’s indigenous people by treaty and executive order, largely without regard to their livelihoods, communities, and culture. Today, sacred indigenous lands are still being exploited to extract wealth.
Land acknowledgements are a “simple, powerful way of showing respect and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture and toward inviting and honoring the truth.” For people unfamiliar with indigenous history, land acknowledgments recognize the names of America’s original inhabitants on the lands where they lived, serving as an important tool for education and inspiring action. Land acknowledgments also counter the idea that the Americas were discovered only a few centuries ago while promoting the true history and stories of the people who were already here. Furthermore, land acknowledgements are a step in the right direction in terms of mending relationships with native communities and with the land.
By becoming aware of and respecting the history of indigenous people in the U.S., people can learn to not repeat what has happened in the past while working towards a future in which we respect, revere, and live in harmony with the people who were here first.
Learn more about indigenous people from the Pittsburgh region below:
- 1681-1776: The Quaker Province and the Founding of Pennsylvania: Includes the Wyandot, Delaware (Lenni-Lenape), and Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) peoples.
- 1748 Logstown Meeting: Includes the Wyandot, Mohican, Tisagechroami, Delaware (Lenni-Lenape), Shawnee, and Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) peoples.
- Frontier Trading Post at Meadowcroft Rockshelter: Includes the Delaware (Lenni-Lenape), Shawnee, and Iroquois (Haudenosaunee, specifically Mingoes) peoples.
- How The Ancients Honored The Dead: The McKees Rocks Mound: Adena culture.
- Meadowcroft Rockshelter, the oldest site of human habitation in North America: Meadowcroft Rockshelter.
- McKees Rocks Mound to Get Historical Marker: Includes Adena culture, Hopewellian culture, and Monongahela people.
- Osage Ancestral Map: Osage
- Pre-1681: Pennsylvania on the Eve of Colonization: Includes the Wyandot, Chippewas, Mississauga, Ottawa, Susquehannock, Delaware (Lenni-Lenape), Shawnee, and Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) peoples.
- Prehistoric Native American Village at Meadowcroft Rockshelter: Monongahela
- Who Lived Here First? A Look at Pittsburgh’s Native American History: Includes Adena culture, the Meadowcroft Rockshelter, and the Wyandot, Monongahela, Delaware (Lenni-Lenape), Shawnee, and Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) peoples.
Featured image is of the Stoneycreek River in Somerset County, shot by Russell H. Heffley (Source: Pitt Archives)