Land & Labor Acknowledgment
This Land & Labor Acknowledgement was created collaboratively by NBEC staff and participants.
A version of This was first read aloud at the NBEC Convening on November 9, 2022, on the unceded territory of the Penobscot Nation. This Land & Labor Acknowledgment will continue to grow and evolve.
Take some moments to pause. Look around you. What do you notice? Who and what is alive around you? What’s something around you that’s been on this Earth longer than you have? Where do you belong in relation to this space? What histories are you bringing?
Children bring immense joy to being among the wildflowers, the river, the trees. What if, one day, all young people had what they needed to learn from the natural world? To learn from the bumblebees and fungi, the aspen and the chickadees? To learn amongst the root systems, to listen and look and ask questions of those around them?
The connection between humans and the natural world is reciprocal, necessary to survival, and sacred to many. When this connection is not honored, and humans focus on maximizing profit and extraction over interdependence and care, the result is violence towards other people as well as violence to the land. It is in the spirit of healing and repairing this connection and these relationships, that we ground ourselves in this land and labor acknowledgement today.
Wabanaki & Abenaki Territory
The land we are on, that we are tied to in so many ways, is Wabanaki and Abenaki territory and has been honored and stewarded by the Wabanaki and Abenaki people, for countless generations.
Tribal Nations are distinct, sovereign entities with their own powers of self-governance and self-determination. The Indigenous people of this land and all over the world continue to protect the Earth and its beings in the face of historical and ongoing genocide, exploitation, and land theft. This violence directly benefits the wealth and land accumulation of settlers and has resulted in the vastly unequal access to land and water that exists now. These histories and practices provide important context for the outdoor sector we know today.
History, Labor, & Stewardship
Like each of us, the land we are on today carries stories and histories. On this land, the State of Maine and the US nation have built wealth and gained power largely through exploiting the labor of people of color and the global South–particularly through the enslavement of Africans and their descendants who still remain unpaid for their grueling labor during the slave trade and its various forms throughout history and into today. Maine’s history is one that includes slavery, from building vessels that transported enslaved people, to its role as a major port in the sugar trade, and its more hidden history of the wealthy and middle-class white families who owned and exploited enslaved people. Enslaved Africans, their descendants, Native people, and migrant people of color have long been the stewards of this land. Through history they have, coerced or not, carried the bulk of responsibility for the cultivation of food and agriculture. These stewards have brought traditional and cultural knowledge and new food sources, which are the base for many modern sustainable and eco-friendly practices.
The purpose of this acknowledgement is to recognize and allow this knowledge to shape our work. Our work centers on building safer and meaningful access to outdoor learning experiences for all youth–and all who care for, live with, know, and learn from them. Our work is dependent on understanding and reckoning with this history and present-day violence. The genocidal practices of colonialism and white supremacy, the exploitation present in our economic system, and the departure from traditional Indigenous practices are directly responsible for the lack of access to outdoor spaces and learning experiences.
Through our collective work, we strive to mitigate past and current harm, while operating in these systems, and recognize that there is still much work to do. Today, we invite you to pay attention to how these legacies of violence inform the initiatives and work in which we invest our collective time and energy. We choose to move forward together, with our eyes open, building a more connected, caring, interdependent world for the generations to come. Thank you for being with us.