Penn College Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that the land on which we live, work, and learn is the ancestral home of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee , Iroquoian-speaking Susquehannocks, and the Lenni Lenape (Delaware). We too recognize their Woodland Period ancestors. We are grateful for their stewardship and management of this land over thousands of years and promote this recognition in honor and respect of that caretaking.

What is a Land Acknowledgement?

A Land Acknowledgement is a formal, institutional statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous peoples as the original stewards of this land and the enduring relationship between Indigenous peoples and their historic territories.

What is the history of the land on which Penn College resides?

Humans have inhabited this area since the end of the last ice age (approximately 16,000 years ago). These Paleo-Indians were nomadic hunter-gatherers who lived in kinship-based bands ranging from twenty to several dozen individuals. They fashioned tools from stone, bone, and wood, but did not plant crops or build permanent dwellings. They lived in rock shelters, hunted turkey, deer, elk, and other prey. 

Around 1000 BCE, the lives of humans in our area changed dramatically as they learned to cultivate crops. Agriculture made it possible to produce food surpluses, which in turn enabled population expansion, economic specialization, and sedentary and semi-sedentary communities. This Woodland Period lasted until 1500 CE. 

Around this same time, the arrival of Europeans strained Indigenous communities and resources. Misunderstanding, greed, religion, ethnocentrism and an increasingly globalized world bore out one of the most tragic sagas in the history of the region and, over time, the continent. And yet, miraculously, this is also a story of persistence and survival as Indigenous peoples have, and continue to, shape the political, economic and cultural landscape. It is in recognition of this rich, tragic, and complicated history that we choose to provide this land acknowledgement.

Portions of this information are from Explore PA History.

Why does Penn College need to recognize the land?

To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose historical territory we reside on, and a way of honoring the Indigenous people who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial. It is important to understand and appreciate the long-standing history of the land and to seek to understand our place within that history.

Land acknowledgements do not exist in a vacuum. This recognition includes the acknowledgement of the mistreatment of Indigenous populations in both the past and the present and challenges all of us to think critically about the past, regardless of how uncomfortable that may be, in order to chart a better path forward.

This process also allows Penn College to educate our community about our history which meets our Mission of providing a grounding in a comprehensive education and our Values as a Community of Respect. We value the over 100-year history of our institution, and we should value the 16,000 years of history that came before us and prepared the land for the education we now provide.