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Land Acknowledgment, First Nations of New York, Native American Histories: Home

Land acknowledgment guide and historical resources.

Land Acknowledgment - LaGuardia Community College Library

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In acknowledging histories of the land where we live, we start by asking the following questions (based on this guide):

* Why is this acknowledgement happening?

* How does this acknowledgement relate to the work of our library?

* What is the history of this territory? What are the impacts of colonialism here?

* What is our relationship to this territory? How did the College come to be here?

* How can we recognize our own positionalities?

* What intentions do we have to disrupt and dismantle colonialism beyond this territory acknowledgement?

This conversation needs to be prefaced by an acknowledgment that land acknowledgements are often made by, and are directed towards, non-Native peoples who may be unaware of the full complexities of received histories and much needed corrections. We hope that this research guide might help us meaningfully engage with these questions.

Land acknowledgments are not acts of self-granted absolution.There are many indigenous peoples living in New York City, to here and from other lands. Land acknowledgements should not be performative, virtue signaling, statements.

"White man, hear me! History, as nearly no one seems to know, is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and our aspirations. And it is with great pain and terror that one begins to realize this. In great pain and terror one begins to assess the history which has placed one where one is and formed one's point of view. In great pain and terror because, therefore, one enters into battle with that historical creation, Oneself, and attempts to recreate oneself according to a principle more humane and more liberating; one begins the attempt to achieve a level of personal maturity and freedom which robs history of its tyrannical power, and also changes history." [Baldwin, J. (1985). White Man's Guilt. In Selected Articles from The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction 1948-1985 (pp. 115-120). New York, NY: St. Martin's Marek. Retrieved from Black Thought and Culture database.]

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About Land Acknowledgment

Names, Identity, Respect

The names seen in the texts and media in this guide need to be understood as being used by authors, communities, and organizations from different historical contexts.

In the United States, indigenous peoples and communities were referred to in objectionable ways that carried the weight of historical violence. Naming is problematic. There is no single consensus on how to summarily refer to the diverse communities that live on lands whose boundaries and borders do not necessarily follow those set up by colonization. In general, it is considered most appropriate to refer to specific tribal names or networks. In early 21st century usage, Native American and American Indian are used frequently. (See this entry for more information.)

In Canada, First Nations has been a generally used collective term, although indigenous peoples is considered more inclusive of other peoples such as the Inuit. 

Recommended Readings

Native Americans in New York City

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Video: #HonorNativeLand

This video accompanies #HonorNativeLand—a guide and call-to-action to spread the practice of acknowledgment of traditional Native lands at the opening of all public gatherings. See U.S. Department of Arts and Culture Guide and Call to Acknowledgment for more info.

Lenape Languages

Lenape Languages

Source:, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons; See Metoac for more info

Native Languages

From Wikitongues, 01 April 2018 [VIDEO - 00:003:06] "This video was recorded by Latonian Dunson and her language partner Yankee, between the US states of Delaware and Ohio. Nanticoke and Lenape, also known as Unami, are the heritage languages of the Nanticoke and Lenape peoples of North America. Though both languages had suffered extinction by the turn the of the 21st century, the Nanticoke and Lenape communities are engaged in lively processes of language reclamation today. Latonian, a heritage Nanticoke speaker, and Yankee, a heritage speaker of Lenape, are taking an active role in these initiatives. Their work is an example of how language activists can leverage the Internet to document, share, and revive their mother tongues for future generations."

PACSCL - Land Acknowledgement & Beyond

VIDEO (59:21) "PACSCL marks National Native American Heritage Month in 2021 with a special event intended to nurture archives’ & libraries’ commitments towards serving Indigenous communities. “Land Acknowledgments & Beyond” is a two-part event. This video documents the first session, held on November 9, 2021. Curtis Zunigha (Lenape/Delaware), Cultural Director for the Delaware Tribe of Indians in Oklahoma and a Co-Director of Lenape Center in Manhattan, spoke about Living Land Acknowledgements as one part of an ongoing process of understanding history and decolonizing institutions."

About this LibGuide

Creative Commons License
LaGuardia Community College Library Guides are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

This LibGuide was based on History Unbound: First Nations of New York, South Central Regional Library Council . The compilation of these resources was made as part of the History Unbound Project. History Unbound, the workshop and website, is a project of the South Central Regional Library Council and is sponsored in part by the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Eastern Region Program, coordinated by Waynesburg University. Thanks also to Jean Amaral at Borough of Manhattan Community College for sharing what was learned at a land acknowledgement workshop led by a Lenape organization. 

MLA Citation: "First Nations of New York" LaGuardia Community College Library Research Guides. LaGuardia Community College, CUNY. Last Date Updated. Date Accessed.

We welcome any additions or corrections: contact Ann Matsuuchi,, LaGuardia Community College Library

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