Dance/NYC, Gibney and collaborators would like to acknowledge that the City of New York is located on stolen land. More specifically, Lënapehóking: The unceded homeland of the Lënape People, who are also recognized federally as the Delaware Nation of Oklahoma, Anadarko Oklahoma; Delaware Tribe of Indians, Bartlesville, Oklahoma; Stockbridge-Munsee Community, Bowler, Wisconsin; and in Canada: Munsee-Delaware Nation; Moravian of the Thames First Nation, Delaware of Six Nations. The Lënape People are the original inhabitants of this land and gave Manhattan island its name: Mannahatta, meaning “hilly island” or “place where we go to gather the wood for the bows.”
After the arrival of Dutch and British colonizers, the Lënape began to endure systematic attacks on their people and way of life that eventually led to their forced removal from the homeland they’d loved for over 10,000 years. The Dutch and British committed atrocious acts of murder and massacre, imprisonment, and warfare that included rape, scalp bounties, and decimation of plant and animal food sources on which the Lënape people depended. In a concerted effort of land appropriation, Lënape people were forcibly removed from their lands in an ongoing series of violent removals and relocations. Although New York City is home to the largest urban Indigenous population in the United States, due to this forced migration and the systematic violence that continues today, the majority of Lënape People and their main political and cultural governance now reside in Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Ontario; far from their homeland of Lënapehóking.
Additionally, inspired by Adrienne Wong of SpiderWebShow (https://spiderwebshow.ca/author/adriennewong/) in what is currently called Canada, I invite us to consider the legacy of colonization embedded within the technologies, structures, and ways of thinking we use every day. These recommendations are published digitally, made possible by the use of equipment and high-speed internet not available in many Indigenous communities—equipment that often leaves significant carbon footprints contributing to climate change that disproportionately impacts Indigenous communities worldwide. We acknowledge that these inequities are our shared responsibility and our roles in reconciliation, decolonization, and allyship.
As New York City-based organizations, we acknowledge that we have benefitted and continue to benefit from this systemic displacement and subsequent erasure of Lënape people and governance. Today we are working to:
- First, ensure we learn and research best practices for acknowledging the land we occupy;
- Second, intentionally invest time, resources, and energy in establishing and nurturing relationships with local Indigenous and First Nations artists and organizations, and create opportunities with the many Indigenous artists living in NYC; and
- Third, that we move beyond acknowledgment and into needed reparation and equity. Dance/NYC must make concerted efforts to collaborate and make pathways for Lënape artists and leaders to return to Lënapehóking, today.
It is for this reason that we recognize and reflect on the centuries of violence, displacement, forced migration, and settlement here; as well as the centuries of resilience and leadership on behalf of all Indigenous and First Nations peoples on Turtle Island, that have led to our livelihoods in New York City today.
This acknowledgment is by no means meant to be the complete and only embodiment of this practice– nor of the movement for reparations in the United States– and remains only a small part of a series of learnings, commitments, and actions that it is a part of.
We encourage readers of these recommendations to participate in this acknowledgment with us by considering the history of the land you occupy and what reparations you can begin to make, today.
Continuing our practice of recognition we would like to name openly the legacies of:
- The African Slave Trade;
- Migration & Immigration Patterns;
- The Disability Rights and Disability Justice Movements; and
- LGBTQIA+ fight for Justice
These areas and tactics of oppression through which white supremacy and settler colonialism have enacted and sustained its power over time are not the only areas, but rather, the main focuses of our ongoing Historical Acknowledgment practice and our justice, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
About Dance/NYC’s Land Acknowledgment Practice + Resources
As a service organization, Dance/NYC often gets requests from artists and colleague arts organizations to share our Land Acknowledgement “language” and/or “protocols.” At this time, these are materials we typically do not publicly share in written form. For the purposes of these recommendations and in order to properly practice deference to First Nations, Indigenous, and Lënape peoples, we have included the acknowledgment in this medium. However, we request that no portion of this acknowledgment be replicated or used publicly, privately, or in any form. Please refer to the Land Acknowledgment Resources page at Dance.NYC/For-Artists/Resource-Pages for more information on Dance/NYC’s practice and further information.