Land Acknowledgement Statement
- We at Rainbow Mennonite Church acknowledge the land we gather on is the ancestral and treaty homeland of the Kaw/Kansa and Osage Nations.
- We acknowledge the land was taken from these Peoples by force.
- We acknowledge as many as 30 Nations, including the Shawnee, Delaware, Cherokee, Iowa, Kickapoo, Lanape, Ottawa, Pottawatomie, Sac & Fox, and Wyandot, were forcibly relocated to Kansas before the US government violated the treaties and violently compelled them to move further west.
- We acknowledge that the Christian church was, and is, complicit in justifying this theft and participated in the cultural genocide of these Nations.
- We acknowledge that these Peoples are still here and that recognizing their deep historic connection to the land is the first step towards building right relationships with them and working together to create a more just society.
An Acknowledgement of Life
When the earth was nothing more than a planet of water, there was only water animals, and birds. One day, bubbles began to break the surface of the water. A blip of new life appeared in the form of a small turtle. After some time of growing, constantly diving to the depths of the ocean, and birds using the turtle as a perch to rest their wings, the turtle began to sprout foliage upon its shell. The more that the birds used the turtle and the growth on its back, the faster the turtle grew, fore there was a need for the turtle. Soon, the turtle grew enormous and was able to house the birds on its shell. Not too long after this, more species of animals began to grow and prosper, even humans came to grow upon the turtles back. Thus, making the land that we walk on today.
We as indigenous people have always known that we came from the earth. Many of our origin stories speak about how we came from the ground either from a cave within a mountain, a giant log, or even riding a corn stalk that pushed its way through the earth. We have always understood that the earth is a living being and was to be treated as such. If you treated it with respect, then it would always take care of you. When the colonizers came to claim land, we always spoke about how this land belonged to only the Earth and Creator. They mocked us and forced their way upon something that was not meant to be taken and disrespected. They killed what the turtle had achieved to grow and to this day, they still hurt the turtle by not taking care of her and not respecting the fact that she is alive.
What you see in this picture is a powwow—a gathering of many different tribal nations coming together to share a song with one another in celebration of life. It’s a beautiful sight to see when the dance arena is full of dancers, colors, and style. They are all different in their own way. This should be the same for your everyday life. When you go out into the world, inhale the beauty that is before you. The sun that heats you up, the foliage that brings you oxygen, the beauty that is all around you is a gift so in return, respect what was given to you. And as you look upon this work of art, notice the children who are wearing their traditional outfits. They are colored orange. This represents the children, and the innocence that was brutally taken within the residential schools. Their lives were cut short in the name of “God.” These babies were wrongfully taken from their families, enslaved, raped, abused, and sometimes murdered. All the things that you could not bring yourself to doing to your own children, was done to the children within residential schools because they were Indigenous and not white. And those who survived and made it back home, lived knowing that these things happened and for several years and could not bring themselves to speak about what they witnessed and sometimes forced to be a part of. The appalling fact about this is that this type of abuse happened within the last 40-60 years ago. These people could’ve been your grandparents, that is how close within history this had happened.
To acknowledge the land is to acknowledge the life/lives that were here in an era that the present does not personally know, and to properly “acknowledge” is to understand your own privilege and how you got here to this point. The lives that were lost for you to be here. The sacrifice it took to keep you safe, even after those who sacrificed were gone. You would not know the things you know and hold dear now if it weren’t for what was here before your footprint. To properly acknowledge a piece of land/life, is to go into the next day and making it a better life for everyone you encounter and not just yourself, just as the small turtle did for all the beings that she did not personally know.
Be gentle with yourself, be gentle with everyone.
Tokeya Waci U Richardson
Indigenous Peoples’ Day, October 2022