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Land Acknowledgment Activities 2021

Following the congregation’s March adoption of the statement, the Land Acknowledgment Team began planning activities to advance its commitments. The framed statement and art were mounted at the top of the stairs, just outside the entrance to the sanctuary. 

In the church’s community garden, Jim Bare planted corn, beans, and squash in the Indigenous “Three Sisters” configuration. He put a land acknowledgment sign on the church garden and also at the Greencroft Goshen garden. In June, a Potawatomi land acknowledgment opened our outdoor Sunday worship services which focused on creation care.

On August 1, the children of the congregation learned about Bodéwadmik (Potawatomi) culture through music and the “Three Sisters” planting in the garden. They imagined what the neighborhood might have looked like when only Native Americans lived here and when the nearby trail was a primary transportation route for people and goods. Two large portraits of contemporary Potawatomi dancers by Sharon Hoogstraten were exhibited in the Fellowship Hall.

In mid-August, Eighth Street hosted the virtual annual meeting of the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition. Our land acknowledgment story was featured in the August 13 Zoom session. Luke Gascho of the Coalition brought the Sunday morning message. In Second Hour, he described the Elkhart Prairie before settlement and the trail used by Indigenous Peoples that passed just yards from what is now our church parking lot. 

On Sundays in September, the Team organized adult programs on the Doctrine of Discovery, land restoration as reparation for past injustice to Native Americans, and Potawatomi-settler contacts in nineteenth century Elkhart County. Twenty adults made a Sunday afternoon pilgrimage to early sites along the Trail of Death, the route of the 1838 forced removal of Potawatomi from northern Indiana. On September 19, about forty adults and youth gathered at Pathways Retreat of Goshen for a land repair activity, treating aggressive weeds to facilitate returning the land to a more natural state.

The September Shalom Gift was designated for the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition and almost $2,000 was donated. The Coalition sent 60% to the 20221-22 Repair Partner, Ka’ Kuxtal Much Meyaj (kah kush tal’), a Maya organization that focuses on agroecology, Indigenous rights, and self-determination for Maya people in the Yucatan Peninsula.

The Land Acknowledgment Team provided informative articles for each monthly issue of the Messenger. Team members are gathering ideas for the 2022 Fall Focus on Land Acknowledgment.