St. Mary’s College of Maryland launched an initiative to acknowledge the land on which the College sits and its historic links to Indigenous Peoples and their territories.
Members of the St. Mary’s College community had a shared desire to honor historical links between Indigenous Peoples and the College. This materialized with the 2020 Margaret Brent Award and Lecture – an imprimatur of the College that is officially bestowed by the College president and organized by the Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies program – which featured Sarah Deer who is a professor at the University of Kansas and an activist for Indigenous women.
Another factor was the unique educational mission of the College as The National Public Honors College which centers on, among other things, being accessible and diverse. Thus, the College community will endeavor to continue to unearth and understand historic realities so that they inform the work of everyone on campus. This, in turn, enhances the College’s ability to become more accessible, inclusive and equitable, especially for those populations most affected by societal inequities.
The goal of the land acknowledgment and pledge is not only to respect and honor the contributions of Indigenous Peoples and enslaved people of African descent, but to support and learn from all diverse communities in order to build a more sustainable future.
The land acknowledgment and pledge, which will be featured in permanent plaque installations across campus, included in faculty syllabi, and read at the beginning of events on campus, states the following:
Land Acknowledgment and Pledge
We acknowledge that the land on which we are learning, working and gathering today is the ancestral home of the Yacocomico and Piscataway Peoples. We also acknowledge that St. Mary’s City was partly built and sustained by enslaved people of African descent. Through this acknowledgment, we recognize these communities and all those who have been displaced and enslaved through colonization.
Given the unique importance of the land on which we sit and given the unique educational mission of St. Mary’s College of Maryland as The National Public Honors College, we pledge to continue to unearth and understand these historic realities so that they inform all of our work. We also pledge to work tirelessly in making our institution more accessible, inclusive and equitable, especially for those populations most affected by societal inequities. We do this with the understanding that by supporting and learning from all of our diverse communities, we build a more sustainable future for all.
The spelling ‘Yacocomico’ is used here as the preferred spelling used by present-day Piscataway, historically related to the Yacocomico. Other spellings may be seen in other contexts.