Acknowledging and Expressing Gratitude to Indigenous Peoples

We offer our gratitude for the practices of Indigenous peoples, and share our land acknowledgment statement.

By Morningside Center’s Indigenous Peoples & Cultures Workgroup*


We at Morningside Center offer our gratitude for the practices of Indigenous peoples.

We acknowledge and pay our respect to Native and Indigenous cultures that have taught us many of the practices we use in our work every day. Our offering of gratitude itself is an essential part of our learning from Indigenous practices that have existed for centuries, and in some instances, for millennia.

We make these acknowledgements as part of our work to dismantle the ongoing legacies of settler colonialism and white supremacy, and in recognition that the United States is built on the practices of slavery, genocide, and land theft. Indigenous peoples inhabited the entire United States, from coast to coast, when the first colonial ship arrived in the 1400s. There were hundreds of nations that had sovereign governments, families, rituals, ceremonies, and thriving cultures before the first settlers arrived. 

people sitting in a circle
                                               Morningside Center circle.

We acknowledge and strongly condemn the present territorial dispossession, resource theft, disproportionate targeting by the criminal legal system, and other ongoing crimes against Indigenous people in the United States. In our role as educators, and in the spirit of our work, we commit to doing our part to right these wrongs by centering Indigenous voices and telling the truth about history and the present in school, and in all places that our voices are heard.

Over the past five years, we at Morningside Center have done deep and collective work to understand the roots of anti-Black racism. We have incorporated those learnings and teachings into our trainings and curricula so that when we work with schools to build belonging and connection, we extend that sense of belonging to all cultures within the school community.
Several months ago, we created a working group of our staff and staff developers to begin a long overdue exploration into Indigenous history and practices and their connection to work we have been doing for many years. This includes community-building circles, restorative healing, conflict circles, and other restorative practices, as well as the gift of deep listening. 
A concrete step in our journey is to incorporate land acknowledgments into our work. This is one way to pay tribute to the Native Peoples whose land we now occupy.

Our working group created the land acknowledgment statement below for New York City, where our offices are located.

* Members of the working group are: Eugenia Acuña, Leslie Dennis, Tresa Elguera, Amy Fabrikant, Adriana Guzman, Mariel Lëmair, Elizabeth Miu-Lan Young, and Cassie Schwerner.

Morningside Center’s LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENT for New York City

We honor and respect the Indigenous peoples on whose land we meet.  
The Lenape are the original inhabitants of New York City, beginning over 12,000 years ago. Before European colonizers arrived, the Lenape people were spread out across what is now called Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley. The Lenape Nation consisted of hundreds of different tribes, many of whose names are now part of our geography: Jamaica, Rockaway, Maspeth, Canarsie, Tappan, Hackensack, Raritan, and Manhattan.

The Lenape did not consider land as something to be “owned.” The concept of land acknowledgment for the Lenape was about honoring and showing gratitude to the creator. They had, and continue to have, a sacred relationship to all the gifts the land provided for them. 
Most Lenape were forced to move to what is now Oklahoma. This acknowledgment serves to bear witness to the Indigenous peoples who thrived on this land prior to its occupation. 
We take this moment to pause, to acknowledge the Indigenous peoples as stewards of this land, and recognize the history we have with the land and colonialism. 
This is a small but essential step in moving forward with respect for all Indigenous peoples, past, present, and future. 


If you want to create your own land acknowledgment:

Videos on Land Acknowledgment



  • IllumiNative is a nonprofit initiative created and led by Native peoples, to increase the visibility of – and challenge the negative narrative about – Native Nations and peoples in American society. 
  • Native Knowledge 360, a project of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the Native American, includes many resources, including this online lesson, Is a Treaty to Be Forever?