On January 28, 2022, the Collegial Assembly at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture endorsed use of an Indigenous land acknowledgment to recognize the history of the native peoples who originally inhabited the lands on which the school sits.
In consultation with the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, we offer the following as suggestions for land acknowledgment statements to be used before all public events within Tyler.
In tandem with offering this land acknowledgment, we consider the histories of exclusion and erasure that have affected the Lenape since European colonization, guided by the principles of equity and inclusion as identified in the Tyler School of Art and Architecture mission, vision and values statements.
We do not wish land acknowledgments to become performative, but are seeking to move the students, faculty, and staff of the Tyler community to remember and honor the original inhabitants of the land we occupy and the legacies of settler colonialism.
In doing so, we remind ourselves that it is our duty to be good stewards of the land that we occupy, on both the Main and Ambler campuses. We encourage the members of the Tyler community to support mindful engagement with the significance of land acknowledgment, perhaps by research into Lenape histories and culture and European colonialist histories in the region; by discussing these histories in and out of class; engaging in land stewardship; and participating in broader community actions in partnership with the Lenape and other Indigenous groups.
We ask any speaker, as they form the land acknowledgment they will say, to be mindful of three things: the Lenape see themselves as caretakers, not possessors, of the land; the Lenape are still present on their ancestral homelands; there are actions we can encourage to make this statement more meaningful.
We provide the following as examples or options of the type of land acknowledgment statements that might be offered.
1. The land on which Tyler School of Art and Architecture sits is Lenapehoking, the ancestral land of the Lenape nation, and we pay respect and honor to the caretakers of this land, from time immemorial until now, and into the future. Acknowledging this history is consistent with Tyler’s commitment to equity and inclusion. This land acknowledgment is one small act in the ongoing process of working to be in a good relationship with the land and the people of the land, and we would urge you to visit www.lenape-nation.org to see how you can continue growing this relationship.
2. By acknowledging that Tyler School of Art and Architecture sits on land originally inhabited by the Lenape nation, we honor the Indigenous peoples who have been and still are living and working on the land and have been caretakers of the land from time immemorial. This land acknowledgment does not exist in the past tense or historic context. Colonialism is a current and ongoing process, and we need to be mindful of our present participation. We would like to encourage our commitment to deepening the ongoing relationship with the Lenape who live in the area.
3. We recognize that Tyler School of Art and Architecture stands on the Indigenous territory known as Lenapehoking, the traditional homelands of the Lenape, also called the Lenni-Lenape or Delaware Indians. These are the people who negotiated in the 1680s with William Penn to facilitate the founding of the colony of Pennsylvania. As part of this land acknowledgment, we reflect on the need to be stewards of the land. We would urge you to join with the Lenape nation who still live here to protect and preserve the lands that border the Lenape Sipu, the Delaware River.