Land Acknowledgment: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

This internationally broadcast land acknowledgment considerably raises the bar for visibility of indigenous history within the wider story of the Americas.

In collaboration with Indigenous Direction, the 2020 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade made history by featuring an indigenous land acknowledgement — the first in its 96-year history — viewed by 20.7 million people worldwide. This included a formal welcome honoring the Powers and the original Ancestors of this land, which the Lenape call Manahatta. It also included a traditional rattle song and a blessing for “all our relations”, acknowledging the Wampanoag, Lenape and all the peoples represented by the participants.

Opalanietet Pierce (Lenape) and J Alison Henry (Tsalagi/’Nde/Arawaka) acknowledged the territory of Manahatta as the parade took place. Mashpee Wampanoag tribal members and language keepers Annawon Weeden and Brian Moskwetah Weeden provided an honoring in Wôpanâôt8âôk (Wampanoag language). This opening was accompanied by Indigenous Ambassadors living in the Northeast region including: Tanis Parenteau (Métis), John Scott Richardson (Haliwa-saponi/Tuscarora), Urie Ridgeway (Lenape), and music by Ty Defoe (Oneida/Ojibwe). This Wampanoag blessing was written and shared by Siobhan Brown of the Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project, and aired exclusively in the Wampanoag language.

The Wampanoag Tribe, also known as The People of the First Light, have inhabited the Eastern coast of present-day Massachusetts for more than 12,000 years. Forced assimilation silenced the Wampanoag language for over 150 years; however, through historical written documents by Wampanoag people, language and culture are again thriving today. This internationally broadcast land acknowledgment considerably raises the bar for visibility of indigenous history within the wider story of the Americas.

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