Land Acknowledgement

Land Acknowledgement

Marine Community Library Land Acknowledgement Statement

Marine Community Library and the communities it serves are located on the traditional, ancestral, and contemporary homelands of the Dakota and Anishinaabe peoples. This land was ceded to the United States in the Treaties of 1837, resulting in the colonization, genocide, and forced removal of the Dakota and Anishinaabe. The settlers who followed, and residents since, have benefited as a result. Marine Community Library acknowledges this legacy and is committed to examining the roots of racial inequity and building better relationships with the land and one another.

What is a land acknowledgement statement?
It is a short and firm declaration that:
• recognizes and honors the Native people who have lived on this land
• expands our understanding of history
• examines ways of thinking and being in relationship with Native people today
• strives to build better relationships with each other and the land we all call home.

What is the history that is driving this effort?
Native people lived in the St. Croix River Valley for many generations before what many considered the “start” of this region’s history. When Native Tribes ceded this land to the United States in the Treaties of 1837, they did not have a clear understanding of the intentions of the government or those who would move in to exploit the land and natural resources for financial gain. Displacement, racial inequities, and genocide of Native people occurred in the years that followed. Tribes also often retained rights to fish, hunt and gather on ceded lands, rights that have frequently been ignored or challenged. This history is an important but often overlooked part of our community’s cultural heritage, a legacy that continues to affect Native people today.

Why should the library pursue a land acknowledgement statement?
The Library’s mission is to educate and broaden the knowledge of our patrons.
Its Adult Programs Committee began studying land acknowledgements as a way to expand our community’s understanding of local history and how that informs the present. It became clear that each of us has the responsibility to learn and act to interrupt the legacy of ignorance, neglect and harm so that we can begin the process of healing our relationship with history, with Native people of our area, and with the land and St. Croix River that we all love. We believe that the Library is an appropriate entity to lead this endeavor.

Why do this now?
In part, this is a matter of helping all of us catch up with history and recognize the reality that if not for the events of 1837, many of us might not be here today. There is growing interest among community residents to gain a deeper understanding of the full history of our region. For example, a presentation on early Native cultures of the St. Croix Valley by an archaeologist from the Science Museum of Minnesota was by far our best-attended Zoom event yet.

This initiative also coincides with a growing social justice awareness happening in churches, schools, cultural institutions and communities across the state and nation. Land acknowledgement statements have been adopted by, among others, the cities of Northfield and Eden Prairie and University of Minnesota – Duluth. Such statements have been utilized in Canada for years and started in Australia four decades ago.

How was the library’s land acknowledgement statement created?
The Library’s Adult Programming Committee explored the purpose, pitfalls, and possibilities of creating a statement. Members studied the topic, consulting people, materials and examples. The committee is grateful for historical knowledge, current perspectives, and/or language/wording suggestions from several Minnesota Native authors; a representative from the Minnesota Historical Society’s Native American Initiatives; the Native American Cultural Liaison from a local public school; and a local historian. Materials from the Native Governance Center in Minneapolis also provided excellent perspectives and suggestions, as did webinars, articles and other websites. The statement is a living document, open to change as we learn, and our understanding evolves.

How will the library use the statement?
The Marine Community Library land acknowledgement statement is currently being read as part of the introduction to adult library programs. The statement is just a start. It is intended to be a springboard for larger education and awareness-building initiatives. That includes more programs that address issues related to history, hosting Native authors, artists and other cultural events, and expanding the library’s collection of Native focused and created materials.

We believe it is vital that we commit to a comprehensive effort to acknowledge Native people who have lived on this land for generations; continue to expand our community’s knowledge about this history; and listen to and build better relationships with Native people of our region today.

We welcome input and ideas from community members.