The Importance of Acknowledging Our History: The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

This post is part of our ongoing blog series that acknowledges the ancestral lands on which the National Archives’ buildings are situated across the country. This series of acknowledgements is a simple way to offer our recognition and respect to the people who once lived on these lands. 

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum is located in Hyde Park, New York, which is situated on the ancestral lands of Wappinger, Mohican, and Munsee peoples, collectively known as the Lenni Lenape. 

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

Often referred to as Lenape Munsee, Munsee is sometimes referenced as language and/or a dialect of a larger language family within the Iroquois. It is sometimes used as a tribal distinction within the Lenni Lenape. Likewise, some sources add an “s” to Wappinger, which is now the name of a town in Dutchess County, and some spell “Mohican” as “Mahican.” There were a number of smaller “tribes” or “clans” within the same language family. Land ownership as such wasn’t really a concept as we think of it today or even as the colonists thought of it then. Thus hunting and farming lands overlapped in areas, including ours, as these First Peoples tended to move freely throughout a wide territory unless they were in conflict with another tribe.

There isn’t a clear statement in this area of all tribal names or spellings especially once individual tribes were removed or driven from certain lands. They sometimes re-formed as new groups or legacy groups (Stockbridge Munsee, for example), usually grouped by language but also often by older tribal alliances. The Clearwater land acknowledgement was the basis for the identifiers used here. Our NPS partners in New York reached out to the Stockbridge-Munsee, which was formed by a combination of Munsee speaking local Wappinger and regional Mohican groups after being removed/driven from their traditional lands. Older maps rarely show one tribe in an area and sources note that our area though mostly Wappinger also saw some overlap with other smaller local tribes which inhabited these lands at various times both prior to and after first contact.

Enter your address in this interactive map of Traditional Native Lands to see who once lived where you are now.

My thanks to William A. Harris, Deputy Director, FDR Library, who provided the research for this land acknowledgement. 

Additional Resources:

  • For quick and informative history see the National Park Service’s web page  Indigeneous Peoples of this Area
  • Clearwater webpage “Honoring Native Lands”
  • Frederick E. Hoxie, ed., Encyclopedia of North American Indians: Native American History, Culture, and Life from Paleo-Indians to the Present (New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1996).
  • Anton Treuer, Atlas of Indian Nations (Washington DC: National Geographic, 2014).

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