Honoring Indigenous Peoples Group
For thousands of years prior to colonization by white settlers, Indigenous people held stewardship of the land on which UUCB sits, along with a large part of the Bay Area and south to the Monterey Bay. To be specific, the church is situated on a portion of what was known as Huchiun, the unceded territory of the Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone people, some of whose descendants are members of the Confederated Villages of Lisjan and/or the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area.
UUCB’s Honoring Indigenous Peoples Group, under the auspices of the Social Justice Council’s Anti-Racism Task Force, was formed in 2020 to engage our congregation in
- education and deep learning of Indigenous peoples’ history, acknowledging the harms, including genocide and land theft, done by settler colonialism
- connecting and actively partnering with Ohlone people in the community
- assuming accountability as we engage in ongoing and enduring acts of respect, including, but not limited to, acknowledgements of land at church services and meetings, dedication of a plaque, and making regular financial contributions to Indigenous peoples’ organizations.
The Honoring Indigenous Peoples Group (HIP) has a Blog, curated by Carol Carlisle and Ann Harlow. Please click on the link above to check it out. You’ll find recommended readings and videos to learn more about the Ohlone, about Native American life in general, and how to be an ally and accomplice in the justice-seeking activities of Indigenous groups.
Want information about Indigenous land reclamation in the Bay Area? Or about the hundreds of shellmounds that were once part of the landscape? Did you know that wild strawberries and soaproot—plants important to the culture of the Ohlone—grow on a UUCB hillside? Are you interested in knowing more about “Actions You Can Take?” You’ll find out all that and more in the Blog.
When you visit the site, please make sure to sign up for “Follow Us via Email,” to assure that you’ll get timely updates.
The HIP Blog, as well as UUCB’s support of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, is part of our ongoing commitment to align with and support Indigenous peoples. HIP has also organized presentations during Native American Heritage Month, led a discussion series on the book Braiding Sweetgrass, planted a Three Sisters Garden, held a harvest celebration with a blessing of the garden by Kanyon Coyote Woman Sayers- Roods, and more.
UUCB’s Land Acknowledgments
The creation of a Land Acknowledgment to be read at Sunday services and other UUCB gatherings was one of the HIP group’s early actions. Our first version was:
As we begin, we take this moment to acknowledge that this church occupies land in what was known as Huchiun, the unceded territory of the Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone people. As community and church members, we continue to benefit from the seizure and occupation of this land. We also want to affirm that this is not simply performative, but is deeply felt and is a commitment toward action.
After some feedback we expanded it a bit:
As we begin, we want to acknowledge that this church occupies land in Huchiun, the unceded territory of the Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone people. We understand that we continue to benefit from the seizure and occupation of this land. We acknowledge and embrace our responsibility to take restorative action. We affirm that this is deeply felt and commit our congregation to be in right relationship with Indigenous communities, aligning in solidarity, supporting Indigenous projects, and caring properly for the land.
With a new minister in 2023, you may hear a variety of land acknowledgments that will help keep the concept fresh.
Questions? Interested in joining the HIP Group? Please contact Helen Tinsley-Jones at email@example.com.
“‘We recognize the people who stood here and protected this land and protected the Earth before…I think there’s responsibility to everyone in the United States to understand what land you’re standing on and to learn about the history of the place you occupy, to respect the ground you walk on.’”
– Redhawk Cultural Director Cliff Matias, who is Quechua and Taíno