The Importance of Acknowledging our History

Last April, I wrote a blog post that acknowledged the people who once lived on the land on which NARA’s flagship building is now located. This post was the first of my blog series of acknowledgements that offer recognition and respect to the people who once lived on these lands.

The National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C., is situated on the ancestral lands of the Natcochank peoples.

Since then, through this blog, we have toured all of NARA’s facilities across the country. At each site, we asked the simple question of who lived on this land before us. Our staff researched the history and provided information for each facility.

Land acknowledgments evolve over time as we learn more about our history and our understanding deepens. I offer the following as an initial land acknowledgement for the National Archives and Records Administration: 

The National Archives and Records Administration acknowledges that we are located on the ancestral homelands of many Native American peoples across the country. 

As the nation’s record keeper, we acknowledge that we have played a role in shaping the histories of local Native Americans by preserving and providing access to the permanent federal records of this county. We recognize, share and celebrate the history of local Native Americans and their immemorial ties to this land.

We commit ourselves to developing deeper partnerships that advocate for the progress, dignity and humanity of the many diverse Native Americans who still live and practice their heritage and traditions on this land today.

Heather Miller of the Wyandotte Nation advises, “When you hear or read a land acknowledgment, take some time to think about how you are recognizing the Indigenous community, what you know about it, and if you can’t think of anything, ask yourself why, educate yourself, reach out, connect.”

“Find a way to build a relationship with the Native community,” she says. “Buy a book by a Native author, download music, donate to a cause, learn something about the people who were here before you.” From This Land Was Their Land.

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

For further information:

American University land acknowledgement at: https://www.american.edu/soe/land-acknowledgement.cfm

Decolonizing museums webinar  Lively webinar from Illinois State Museum.

A Guide to Indigenous Land Acknowledgement

Guide to Indigenous Land and Territorial Acknowledgements for Culture Institutions

Honor Native Land: A Guide and Call to Acknowledgement

Native American records at the National Archives

My sincere appreciation for those who provided research, information, maps and images to support this series of blog posts. Contributors include: 

Gwen E. Grenados, Director, the National Archives at Riverside
Christopher Geissler, Deputy Director, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum
Jason Hiller, Archives Technician, the National Archives at Boston
Robert Kett, Digital Imaging Technician, the Barack Obama Presidential Library
Douglas A. Bicknese, Director of Archival Operations, the National Archives at Chicago
Glenn Longacre, Archivist, the National Archives at Chicago 
Leo Belleville, Archivist, the National Archives at Chicago 
Jeremy Farmer, Archives Technician, the National Archives at Chicago
Rose Miron, the Director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies at the Newberry Library  in Chicago
Allison Cutuk, Assistant Director, Kingsridge Federal Records Center
Saundra Coleman, Archives Technician, Kingsridge Federal Records Center 
Aaron Sipes, Supervisory Archives Specialist, Dayton Federal Records Center
Ingi House, Director of Archival Operations, the National Archives at Denver
Cody White, Archivist, Research Services Subject Matter Expert for Native American Related Records, the National Archives at Denver
Michael Wright, Director of Archival Operations, the National Archives at Fort Worth 
Melinda Johnson, Archives Specialist, the National Archives at Fort Worth 
Stacey Wiens, Archives Specialist, the National Archives at Fort Worth 
Sam Rushay, Supervisory Archivist, the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum
Laurie Austin, Audiovisual Archivist, the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum
Jake Ersland, Director of Archival Operations, the National Archives at Kansas City
Tim Rives, Deputy Director of Archival Operations, the National Archives at Kansas City
Kimberlee Ried, Public Affairs Specialist, Museum Programs Division, the National Archives at Kansas City
Sara Lyons Davis, Education Specialist, the National Archives at New York City
Patrick Connelly, Director of Archival Operations, the National Archives at Philadelphia 
Grace Schultz, Archivist, the National Archives at Philadelphia
Anne R. Price, Move Coordinator, the Pittsfield Federal Records Center
Stefanie Hutchins, Chief of Staff, Agency Services
Stephanie Bayless, Director of Archival Operations, the National Archives at San Francisco 
John Seamans, Archives Technician, the National Archives at San Francisco
Crystal Shurley, Archival Technician, the National Archives at Seattle
Ann Baker, WNRC Administrative Officer
Spencer Howard, Archives Technician, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library
William A. Harris, Deputy Director, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
Mary Burtzloff, Archivist, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home
Rachael MacAskill, Assistant Director, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Maria Quintero, Outreach and Program Manager, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Jenna de Graffenried, Archivist, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum 
Ian Frederick-Rothwell, Archivist, the LBJ Foundation
Jay Godwin, the LBJ Foundation
Meghan Lee-Parker, Archivist, the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
Lauren White, Archivist, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library
Kristin Phillips, Public Affairs Specialist, the Gerald R. Ford  Presidential Museum
Don Holloway, Curator (retired), the Gerald R. Ford  Presidential Museum
Ira Pemstein, Supervisory Archivist, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum
Aimee Muller, Archivist, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum
Michael Pinckney, Archivist, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum
Paul Santa Cruz, Archivist, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
Robert Holzweiss, PhD., Deputy Director, the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
Professor Alston V. Thoms, Director, Archaeological-Ecology Laboratory, Texas A&M University
Kara Ellis, Archivist, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum 
Adam Bergfeld, Archivist, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum
Meredith Doviak, Community Manager, Office of Innovation
Pamela Wright, Chief Innovation Officer, NARA

Previous Blog posts in this series:

One thought on “The Importance of Acknowledging our History

  1. Thank you, Mr. Ferriero, for telling us about the Native American ancestral lands related to NARA. When I was probably 10 years old, my aunt gave me a book about Native American string games. This book piqued my interest and I began checking out books from the library about Native Americans. My favorite book was “Empire of the Summer Moon.” Even though Fort Parker is about 80 miles from College Station, I felt like it was local history.

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