Background Information on the Lenape
Why Does Drexel Have a Land Acknowledgment Statement?
The Drexel Land Acknowledgment serves to both:
- Express gratitude and appreciation to the Indigenous people whose territory the University resides on, as well as the Indigenous people who have and continue to live and work on the land
- Acknowledge that an accurate and comprehensive history of Indigenous people of the Americas has been systematically forgotten and erased from “traditional” teachings of American history
Full Land Acknowledgment Statement
The land on which Drexel University stands and upon which we gather is part of the traditional territory of the Lenape called “Lenapehokink” (pronunciation: Lun-nah-pay-ho-king). It is here that the people called the 'grandfather tribe' and the 'peacemakers' have lived their lives, spoken their language, and held their ceremonies for thousands of years. Indeed, Lenape is translated as “real or original person.” During the colonial and early federal period, many were removed west and north, but some also remain in their homeland. The Lenape were subjected to 250 years of colonization that included cultural suppression and erasure, forced removal from this land and continue to experience systemic discrimination and marginalization.
Acknowledging this history, our privilege to be on this land, and the Lenape tribe's continued presence, is consistent with Drexel University’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We openly recognize the Lenape tribe as the original inhabitants of eastern Pennsylvania, as well as their continuing presence and relationship with their territory. We acknowledge the Lenape people as the Indigenous stewards of their homelands as well as the spiritual keepers of the Lenape Sipu, or Delaware River, and Drexel University does hereby commit to actively supporting our Lenape community members in whatever way we are able, helping to maintain the Indigenous cultural identity of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and southern New York. We hope that, by recognizing this Indigenous history, it will inspire you to think about your place on this land, engage in efforts to promote a community that values work towards decolonization and strengthening of Indigenous communities, here and elsewhere.
How to Use the Land Acknowledgment Statement
A spoken land acknowledgment serves a slightly different purpose than the full version. While the full version seeks to represent the often erased history of Indigenous people, the spoken version seeks to remind and honor Indigenous people and their historical and continued care for the land, and to give thanks to Indigenous people for the use of said land.
Therefore, the spoken version is slightly different:
“We are gathered here today on Lenapehokink (pronunciation: Lun-nah-pay-ho-king) land that once was and still is sacred to the Lenape People. It is here that the people called the 'grandfather tribe' and the 'peacemakers' have lived their lives, spoken their language, and held their ceremonies for thousands of years, before being subjected to removal and colonization through cultural suppression and erasure.
In honor of them let us pause in the Lenape way, remembering where we are and who we are with. To be of one mind and one heart with all our relations. To remember the ancestors and to walk softly and carefully on our Mother Earth. With these thoughts, all right action follows. Aho. Thank you.”
Drexel University community members are encouraged to use this approved land acknowledgment at the beginning of events, especially ceremonial events such as, but not limited to commencement ceremonies, departmental retreats, Drexel-sponsored conferences and large student or employee gatherings.
Best Practices: Using the Land Acknowledgment Statement
- Delivering a land acknowledgment should be done with intention, reflection, care and solemnity.
- The person giving the acknowledgment should be the host of the event or meeting themselves.
- Ensure that you have adequately prepared, especially in terms of accurate pronunciation.
- It is worth noting that acknowledging the land is Indigenous protocol.