As environmental educators, we have a unique opportunity to engage youth meaningfully with nature. With this, we think, comes a responsibility to examine our own relationship to the land we live and teach on, and to learn about the relationship the local indigenous communities had and have with the land. We can also engage our students in this conversation, guiding them to thoughtfully develop a relationship with land and nature. One way to do this is to include territorial acknowledgments in our programming. At their core, territorial acknowledgments name the indigenous peoples who first lived on the land and call attention to their enduring presence. You may use this acknowledgment as you see appropriate for your group, and note that the language is always a work in progress.
The above introduction is adapted from the BEETLES Project website: http://beetlesproject.org/resources/territorialacknowledgment/
The 4-H Camps and Learning Centers, as part of the Cooperative Extension of the University of Maine, recognize that we are located around the state in the homeland of Wabanaki people, where issues of water and territorial rights, and encroachment upon sacred sites are ongoing. We recognize that Wabanaki (Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot) Tribal Nations are distinct, sovereign, legal, and political entities with their own powers of self–governance and self–determination. We respect the Wabanaki People as the original stewards of this land. We thank them for their strength and resilience in caring for this land for hundreds of years. We recognize that we have a responsibility to continue working to change the systems that continue to allow injustice and inequality to exist. We are committed to listing, learning, and building relationships while serving as stewards to this land.