This post continues my 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 National Archives at New York City is situated on the ancestral lands of the Munsee Lenape peoples.
Our staff at the National Archives at New York City found it useful to review land acknowledgement statements from other Manhattan cultural institutions [see examples below] and drafted their own:
We gratefully acknowledge the Native peoples on whose ancestral homelands we gather today. Here at the National Archives at New York City this includes the Munsee Lenape peoples as well as the diverse and vibrant Native communities who reside in the area today.
Access is at the foundation of the National Archives. NARA acknowledges that records held by federal repositories may include documents representative of a history of oppression and attempts at erasure of Native cultures. We strive to empower all Americans to find themselves in our documents and access primary sources to tell their stories, expanding the interpretation of the historical record and the narrative of the United States, moving closer to a more perfect Union.
The National Archives at New York City is located in the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. We acknowledge that this structure was built roughly upon the site of a Lenape trading area, and later, the original Dutch colonial Fort Amsterdam which was constructed through the use of enslaved labor.
The building stands at the base of Broadway, a thoroughfare that was largely based on an active North/South route across the island of Manhattan that extended to what is now Boston, MA. It was developed and used as a trade route by Northeast Native Communities and later adopted by colonial settlers.
Enter your address in this interactive map of Traditional Native Lands to see who once lived where you are now.
My thanks to Sara Lyons Davis, Education Specialist, from the National Archives at New York City, for the research, photographs, maps and information she provided for this post.
- On Native Land, Brooklyn Public Library Blog: https://www.bklynlibrary.org/blog/2019/11/08/native-land
- “The Origin and Meaning of the Name Manhattan” Article from Fall 2010 NYS Historical Association publication; History About Naming of Manhattan with Discussion of Munsee Lenape Communities in the Region: https://repository.si.edu/bitstream/handle/10088/16790/anth_Manhattan.pdf?sequence=1/
- Manahatta to Manhattan: Native Americans in Lower Manhattan: https://www.k12.wa.us/sites/default/files/public/indianed/tribalsovereignty/elementary/uselementary/uselementary-unit1/level2-materials/manahatta_to_manhattan.pdf
- Mapping Manahattan: 10 Lenape Sites in New York City: https://www.6sqft.com/mapping-manahatta-10-lenape-sites-in-new-york-city/
- A Tour of Native New York: https://barnard.edu/news/tour-native-new-york
- Teaching Lenape History: https://www.gothamcenter.org/blog/teaching-lenape-history-an-interview-with-pilar-jefferson
Additional Resources About Land Acknowledgements:
- Native Land Guide: https://usdac.us/nativeland
- NMAI: https://americanindian.si.edu/nk360/informational/land-acknowledgement
Examples of NY Area Land Acknowledgements:
- New Museum Site Heritage Land Acknowledgement: https://www.newmuseum.org/pages/view/building-1
- ICP: https://www.icp.org/about/land-acknowledgement
- NYU Department of History: https://as.nyu.edu/content/nyu-as/as/departments/history/about-us/about-us1.html#:~:text=The%20Department%20of%20History%20at,population%20in%20the%20United%20States.
- Columbia School of the Arts: https://arts.columbia.edu/about/land-acknowledgement