Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake recognizes that we stand on the shoulders of the people who came before us. We recognize that the American story does not begin with the Colonial era, but rather with the arrival of the first people thousands of years before. Their stories help define who we are, and what our nation will become. Today, and all days, we honor our country's future by recognizing our shared past. 

There is no part of our culture that has not been positively influenced by our indigenous communities. It’s time to dismantle the barriers that separate our communities, a goal only achieved through recognition and acknowledgment of our past. 

With help, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake has prepared a statement honoring our commitment to the indigenous communities of the Chesapeake region. Recognizing the land and waters where these communities once flourished. We hope you will join us in this reflection.

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“Today, we wish to hold space for silent reflection on, and gratitude for, the land upon which we live and the local waters that support and nourish us all.  We recognize that this land and these waters were stewarded by many who came before.

For tens of thousands of years, Algonquin speaking cousins called the shores of the Chesapeake home.  Although we have lost many names, we ask you to say their names aloud as we learn to restore honor for their stewardship of these Ancient lands and waters:

Lenape, 

Nanticoke, 

Kussokarowak,

Piscataway, 

Choptank, 

Chickahominy, 

Mattaponi, 

Monacan, 

Nansemond, 

Pamukey, 

Rappahannock, 

Cheroenhaka Nottaway, 

Pattawomeck, 

Accohannock, 

Nause-Waiwash, 

Assateague, 

Pocomoke, 

Wicomiss.

The Original People believed they belonged to these lands and waters, not the other way around. Their spirituality and identity were place based. The stories these Indigenous People, Plants, Animals, Lands, and Rivers witnessed are filled with environmental, social, and climate changes interwoven with stories of many struggles, injustices, and resilience!

Many of these indigenous people were displaced by European settlers, who scarred this land with the brutal institution of forced, slavery and extermination - the legacy of which we all are still working to overcome.

For more than 400 years, the land and waters of the Chesapeake have watched and borne ill treatment, as forests are removed, lands are poisoned and paved, while populations of other species are decimated by loss of habitat and over-consumption.

We reflect together as people of faith, in response to the calling of our hearts, to come alongside the Original Stewards of this land and these waters that sustain us all.  We seek to change the narrative of this story, our story, towards one of harmony with the gifts of creation and all living beings.

May we act upon this calling in a way that helps us not only to heal the wounds of nature, but the wounds of our common story and living communities as well.

Our hearts are full of hope as we come together with honor for all Life.”

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We are a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people. Together we are strongest.

We cannot erase the misdeeds of the past, nor can we ignore them, but we can make amends for the future. It’s time to begin the path towards healing. That in many ways is what our work here at Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake is all about. 

We invite you to take the time to learn more about the indigenous communities that once occupied our region. This resource about tribal lands can be a great place to start learning about the cultures, societies, and people who once stood in the very place you stand today. 

https://native-land.ca/

Taylor Swanson

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Communications & Outreach Coordinator