Pokanoket Land Acknowledgement hits the papers

News of the Warren Town Council’s adoption of a Land Acknowledgement recognizing the Pokanoket Tribe as the original occupants of the Town hit the Providence Journal’s front page — twice — and the front page of the Warren Times-Gazette. Writing in the July 19th article, Alex Kuffner related the approval of the Land Acknowledgement to the Tribe’s claim to their ancestral land on Mount Hope in Bristol now owned by Brown University. “Led by its sagamore, or chief, William Guy, the tribe has been seeking to have its identity acknowledged for many years,” Kuffner wrote. In a follow-up front page article that appeared on July 21st, Kuffner continued “So in his view, the Town of Warren’s decision last week to approve a “land acknowledgment” that officially recognizes the Pokanokets’ deep roots in the area is an important step forward in his people’s quest. ”

Writing on the front page of the Warren Times on July 21st, editor Ted Hayes quoted Town Council President Keri Cronin as saying “It seemed like the next appropriate step in all the work that we’ve been doing towards identifying and acknowledging our history, and clarifying it and being respectful of all that it means.”

The acknowledgement was part of a larger effort in the town to pay respect to the Pokanoket people, including a commemoration on July 3rd of the 400th anniversary of the first visit of the Pilgrims to the home of the Massasoit, a new interpretive marker at the site of the Massasoit Spring, an updated local history program for schoolchildren, a reinterpretation of the Town’s former Warrior mascot, and an updated history of the Town on its website.

The Acknowledgement reads: Welcome to Sowams, the ancestral home of the Pokanoket people for ten thousand (10,000) years prior to settler colonization. We pay tribute to the tribal elders and people of this community who served and continue to serve as stewards of the lands and waterways of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. We recognize the unique and enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous People and their traditional territories. We acknowledge that our community was a part of the larger ancestral homeland of the Pokanoket Nation. Let this acknowledgement serve as a reminder of our ongoing efforts to recognize, honor, reconcile and partner with the Pokanoket people for the benefit of the lands and water of Sowams.