Imagination Stage acknowledges that the land and water on which our theatre home sits was, and is still, inhabited and cared for by the Susquehannock tribe, and Piscataway Peoples, including the Piscataway Conoy Tribe and Choptico Band of the Piscataway Indian Nation. We are grateful for their past and continued stewardship of this land. Indigenous people, especially their children, have powerful voices that have often been silenced throughout history.
Susquehannock Indian Tribe
Based on a land acknowledgment statement drafted by a Susquehanna and Shawnee elder for the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) Land Acknowledgement Project.
We (Imagination Stage) acknowledge that the place today known as Montgomery County exists as the result of duress. In 1652, Susquehannock leaders unwillingly transferred these lands to the English in an unsuccessful effort to stop English settlers encroaching up the Susquehanna River. We acknowledge that these places and their Indigenous inhabitants exist without rigid political borders and boundaries maintained by settlers and settler governments.
We acknowledge the social, physical, spiritual, and kinship relationships this land continues to share with Indigenous nations of the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay; We acknowledge that these relationships have been displaced, damaged, and dispelled by colonists’ insatiable thirst for acquisition and domination. We acknowledge a place out of balance with its true purpose in being. We acknowledge our occupation of Susquehannock lands. We acknowledge the continuing presence of Indigenous nations, and the shelter and nourishment that this place continues to provide all Native peoples who live here today. We acknowledge our responsibility to Indigenous nations to repair unhealthy relationships and to steward all life.
Piscataway Peoples - Choptico
This statement was authored by Choptico elders for MSAC’s Land Acknowledgement Project.
[Video from Planet Word of Piscataway speaker]
We (Imagination Stage) acknowledge the Indigenous peoples formerly occupying lands known as Choptico, land upon and beyond both banks of water now known as Wicomico, where they lived for untold centuries prior to first European colonization; and,
We acknowledge Native peoples living upon said land, who became known as Choptico Indians by the colonial government, though many natives arrived from other towns and villages to Choptico following displacement by colonists; and,
We acknowledge that those lands and waters relied upon for sustenance, housing, and other considerations, were with intent, methodically decreased to an area that became known as the Choptico Reserve, upon which they were forced to subsist and live upon; and,
We acknowledge Choptico lands were neither ceded nor sold to colonists, the colonial government of Maryland, or the United States, and not ceded by any “Just War” or Treaty; and,
We acknowledge that Choptico lands were overrun by colonists who used their laws, subtle means of indebtedness, and other acts of duress to displace the Choptico from their lands; and, We acknowledge the graves of Choptico ancestors that were plundered for grave goods and their earthly remains removed and never repatriated for reburial: and,
We acknowledge the descendants of those displaced from the Choptico Homeland who have for more than three centuries endured forced assimilation, misidentification, intentional omission of existence, and loss of traditions, language, worldview, and lifeways, and been forced into a diasporic existence; and, we acknowledge the Choptico Indians’ resilience in holding steadfast to their culture and identity and maintaining efforts to recover a portion of their former homeland while recovering from invasion, displacement, and oppression.
Piscataway Peoples - Piscataway Conoy & Piscataway Indian Nation
Created by Maryland State Arts Council staff based on information shared by Piscataway Indian Nation tribal consultants.
We (Imagination Stage) acknowledge that the Piscataway Indian Nation continues to maintain a relationship with the lands where we gather today. Along with the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, the Piscataway Indian Nation received recognition by the State of Maryland in 2012.
We acknowledge their long-standing kinship with these lands and waters and acknowledge that we are uninvited visitors on Indigenous lands. To make this statement more meaningful, We invite you to learn more about the Piscataway Indian Nation and about land acknowledgement statements via resources available at MSAC.org and elsewhere, to consider donating or making institutional resources available to tribal peoples, and to reconsider in what ways you can improve your relationship with the lands you steward.
What is a Land Acknowledgement?
A Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement that acknowledges and respects the stewardship of the First People who lived on this land many thousands of years before our organization. It brings to the forefront the continuing relationship between First Peoples and their traditional homelands. A relationship that continues despite the forced removal of First People from their ancestral homes.
Why acknowledge the Land?
A Land Acknowledgement decenters colonial history and brings to life a more complete story of a place. By highlighting the tribal history, we acknowledge the deep and perpetual relationship between the land and the First People who have cared for it since time immemorial.
A Land Acknowledgement is only a first step, and it marks an ongoing effort by Imagination Stage to make our events and our building a welcoming place to all. The Land Acknowledgement invites all to be mindful that colonialism is an ongoing process, one that requires concentrated action to work against.
What Can I Do?
If the Land Acknowledgement has inspired you, please visit the websites included below to learn more about the ongoing goals and initiatives of the tribes. Our Land Acknowledgement isn’t a complete source of information, and it is intended to spark respectful action in the Imagination Stage Community.
The influences of Indigenous people are felt today. River Road and Wisconsin Avenue were created from trails woven into the land by indigenous. Please connect with and learn more about the tribes and their current goals via their websites Piscataway Conoy Tribe and Cedarville Band Of Piscataway Indians.
The Circle Legacy Center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is the primary Susquehannock-supporting cultural institution.
Read the full MSAC Land Acknowledgement Project Report.
Resources for Parents
American Indians in Children’s Literature (Blog & Online Resource)