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October 9, 2023

Honoring Stolen Land

Being connected to the earth and taking care of it is an important part of being a healthy and connected human being. However, for those of us in America, with its sprawling landscapes and diverse ecosystems, we know it holds a deep and complex history. To truly understand and appreciate the land, we must acknowledge the painful truth that it was stolen from Indigenous people. However, we can actively work towards healing and connection by supporting Indigenous communities and embracing a holistic relationship with the land.

Free Woman in White and Red Floral Dress Standing on Green Grass Field Stock Photo

The history of land theft from Indigenous communities in the United States is a stark reminder of the injustices committed in the name of colonization. To honor the land, we must first acknowledge this dark history. The theft of land, forced removals, and the suppression of Indigenous cultures have left a lasting legacy of trauma. By recognizing this history, we can begin the process of healing and reconciliation. One of the most impactful ways to honor the land is to support Indigenous communities and their efforts to reclaim their heritage.

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Donate to Indigenous-led organizations and initiatives that focus on land rights, cultural preservation, and economic development within Indigenous communities. Your financial support can help address the historical injustices that have left many Indigenous communities in poverty. Educate yourself and others about Indigenous history, culture, and contemporary issues. Understand the ongoing struggles faced by Indigenous communities, including land disputes, lack of access to clean water, and healthcare disparities. By raising awareness, you contribute to a more informed and empathetic society. Stand in solidarity with Indigenous communities by advocating for their rights and supporting legislation that addresses their concerns. Attend local meetings, engage with policymakers, and participate in campaigns that promote Indigenous sovereignty and land rights. Finally, engage in cultural exchange programs or events organized by Indigenous communities. These experiences foster understanding, bridge gaps, and allow you to learn directly from Indigenous people about their traditions and connection to the land.

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Along with holding space and learning from Indigenous people, you can also connect to the land directly. Building a meaningful connection with the land is an essential step in the journey of honoring it. Spend time in natural settings. Whether it’s a local park or a wilderness area, immersing yourself in nature allows you to appreciate its beauty and tranquility. Try to disconnect from technology during these outings to deepen your connection. Before exploring a new natural area, research and acknowledge the Indigenous peoples who historically inhabited that land. Show respect by offering a silent or spoken acknowledgment to recognize their enduring connection. Learn about Indigenous land-based practices and traditions. For example, many Indigenous communities have deep knowledge of medicinal plants and sustainable land management. Explore these practices with respect and an open heart. Participate in or support community gardens and sustainable agriculture initiatives. These projects not only connect you to the land but also promote responsible land use and food sovereignty, principles often valued by Indigenous communities. Lastly, engage in storytelling or artistic expressions inspired by the land. Write about your experiences in nature, create art that reflects your connection, or join local storytelling circles that celebrate the land’s importance.

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Connecting with the land is not just about personal enrichment; it’s a step towards healing and a more sustainable future. When we are deeply connected to the land, we become stewards of it. We recognize the interdependence of all living beings and ecosystems, reinforcing the importance of conservation and responsible land use. Moreover, this connection can foster a sense of belonging and well-being. Studies have shown that spending time in nature reduces stress, anxiety, and depression while promoting physical health. By honoring the land, we simultaneously nurture our own mental and emotional well-being.

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Honoring the land in the United States, despite its painful history, is a journey of healing and connection. By supporting Indigenous communities, educating ourselves, and actively engaging with the land, we can bridge the gaps of the past and create a more just and sustainable future. This journey not only enriches our lives but also contributes to the preservation of the land for future generations, ensuring that the lessons of history are not forgotten. In connecting with the land, we find a profound sense of belonging and purpose, forging a harmonious relationship with the earth that benefits us all.