For the last few years, Camp has been on an intentional journey of learning more about the indigenous history of the land here. We know it’s an ongoing process and will likely never be static or complete. Here is what we offer today as our land acknowledgment, recognizing it as one step of Camp’s journey seeking repair and reparations for Indigenous Peoples.
We acknowledge that we gather as Camp Friedenswald on traditional land of the Potawatomi People past, present, and future, and honor with gratitude the land itself and the people who have tended it throughout the generations. We recognize and affirm the sovereignty of the Potawatomi and other indigenous nations.
Following treaties between 1821 and 1833, many Potawatomi people were dispossessed of their indigenous homelands by the United States government and forcibly removed. Our neighbors, the Pokagon band of the Potawatomi, continue to live in Southwest Michigan and remain an important part of our community today.
Knowing our history does not change the past, but a thorough understanding of the ongoing consequences of this past can empower us in our work for a just and peaceful future.
Read Skye McKinnell’s article on land acknowledgments and our process at Camp (printed in the spring 2021 Friedensword).
Learn more about Indigenous Peoples, territories, treaties, and languages in your area using this GIS map and app.
Get started on land acknowledgment with this guide from the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture.
Watch “Then, Now and Always…the St. Joseph River Story” on WNIT for more history and to hear local Potawatomi people talk about their current efforts to restore nearby waterways.
Find more information and resources on Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition’s website.
Camp’s ongoing land acknowledgment journey
Camp leadership affirms the idea of creating a land acknowledgment statement for Camp. Research and collection of information begins in earnest.
Camp staff meet with local Pokagon band leaders. The Pokagon band leaders encourage Camp to create a land acknowledgment statement. They also encourage Camp to see this as a beginning of a journey that results in more actions for repair and reparations with Indigenous Peoples.
A draft of a statement is completed. Operations at Camp are greatly reduced due to COVID-19 pandemic, and statement adoption and implementation is shelved.
Camp staff receive affirmation of the draft land acknowledgment statement from Pokagon band leader, Marcus Winchester, with suggestions for improvements. Camp staff adjust statement accordingly.
Camp staff attend two related trainings. Skye McKinnell, sustainability assistant and lead researcher and author of Camp’s statement led “Why Land Acknowledgment”. Luke Gascho, founding member of the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery coalition and Goshen resident, led a session on the history of Cass County and surrounding area, with a focus on indigenous history.
Camp board unanimously votes to adopt the land acknowledgment statement. Skye McKinnell writes an article on land acknowledgment for the spring 2021 Friedensword.
Camp staff begin to use land acknowledgment in programming. Summer staff are trained on the land acknowledgment statement. Each summer worship session begins with the statement. In addition, space is provided for conversations about Camp’s land acknowledgment journey with campers and constituents.
Land acknowledgment, journey thus far, and additional resources are added to website.
Camp Friedenswald became a member of the Repair Communities Network with the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery coalition.