Land and History Acknowledgement

In some parts of the world, land acknowledgements are so commonplace as to be seen as performative. However, in this area they are still relatively rare, and thus we feel stating one has value. This is one way we attempt to live into a commitment to educating ourselves and our neighbors, as well as engaging in the ongoing work of decolonization and anti-racism. If you are unfamiliar with Land Acknowledgements, more information is available via the Maryland State Arts Council.

 

We acknowledge, with humility, that the lands where we gather are the traditional ancestral, and unceded lands of Piscataway, Lenape, and Susquehannock Indigenous peoples.

 

The vast coastal area today known as Baltimore City, Maryland, sustained Indigenous peoples until the arrival of Europeans beginning in the 1600s. Over the next 400 years, many Piscataway, Lenape, and Susquehanock communities were decimated, absorbed by larger villages or tribes, and/or forced by the US federal government to move west beyond the Mississippi River with larger tribes.

 

Since then, other tribal peoples have moved here in diaspora, including Lumbee peoples. On January 9, 2012, two tribes of Piscataway—the Piscataway-Conoy Tribe and the Piscataway Indian Nation became the first tribes recognized by the state of Maryland. In 2017, the state also recognized the Accohannock Indian Tribe. We acknowledge we are standing on stolen lands.

 

We also acknowledge the history of this specific location, now known as Roland Park, which, during the early years of the 19th century, was used as wheat farm by Robert Goodlowe Harper, a white man who wrongfully claimed ownership over nine enslaved Black persons. In the early 1890s, the Roland Park neighborhood was begun as the first planned suburb community in the country. By 1912, Roland Park deeds explicitly forbade any Black person to live within the environs, with the exception of “domestic servants.” Persons of Jewish faith were also not sold deeds during this time. Though this discrimination was deemed illegal in a 1948 Supreme Court ruling, the larger history of systemic racism continues to impact this neighborhood, Baltimore, and our country to this day.

 

This land and history acknowledgement is by its very nature incomplete for no one acknowledgement can fully do justice to the colonized history of the Indigenous persons, and, later, to Black persons, who called and call this land home. It therefore represents one aspect of our ongoing commitment to the work of learning actively and honestly engaging with the history of colonization and our roles in this history, as well as seeking to take steps – incomplete and imperfect though they may be – to live into the work of decolonization and anti-racism.

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