Toward Land Acknowledgement

This year First Parish will be engaged in a process of developing a land acknowledgement, a
statement that recognizes that the land on which our congregation is located was stolen from
the Indigneous people who first inhabited this area and our commitment to work for reparations,
right relationship and justice in regard to Indigenous people. This is part of an ongoing process
informed by the work of the Indigenous Justice Working Group, IJWG.

Beginning in the fall, the IJWG is planning sessions with the congregation about this topic —
defining a land acknowledgment, why is it important, what would we want ours to say? We
would like to invite the First Parish community to participate in these discussions, for greater
understanding and motivation to endorse the need for a land acknowledgment, as well as
further repair and reparations work with local and national Indigenous peoples.

Below are two sample statements. One version was crafted by Rev. Erica and the other by
Elizabeth Hunter, member of the IJWG and was shared in the summer service of Sept 2021.

Sample A:
The meetinghouse of First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Arlington resides on the ancestral
land of the Massachusett People, whose name was appropriated by this Commonwealth. We
pay respect to the Massachusett elders past and present. We recognize the Massachusett
People as traditional stewards of this land and we acknowledge the enduring relationship that
exists between them and their traditional territories. We admit the truth of violence
perpetrated against the Indigenous Peoples of the land and make a commitment to uncovering
that truth. We make this acknowledgment as part of building a culture of respect, truth, and
accountability in our congregation, our community, and our nation.
–Elizabeth Hunter

Sample B:
We, the First Parish Unitarian Universalist congregation of Arlington, acknowledge that we are
on the unceded lands of the Massachusett Tribe. Our congregation’s historical ancestors, white
European settlers, seized these lands from indigenous people. We honor the bloodline of the
Massachusetts people and commit to ongoing conversations of repair and reparations.
–Rev. Erica

As we begin this work, these samples and additional information will be shared with worship
associates, ministers, and guest preachers, and folks will be asked to start incorporating a
land acknowledgement using them (in some variety) in the opening words of our Sunday

It is our hope that the congregation hearing different takes on this concept will lay fertile
ground for the more formal IJWG conversations and creation of a specific Land
Acknowledgement for our community. By the end of this program year the IJWG will
incorporate input and propose a final version for the First Parish community to endorse and

Please contact the Indigenous Justice Working Group with questions- email at