Renaissance Land Acknowledgement

Renaissance Land Acknowledgement
Posted on 12/08/2022

Renaissance Middle School recently held a land acknowledgment ceremony, to recognize the school resides on what was once the land of the Lenni Lenape tribal nation. In the weeks and months leading up to this event teachers Anthony Colon, physical education and Rodney Jackson, social studies, met with Reverend Dr. John R. Norwood, who is a member of the Nanticoke Lenni Lenape tribal nation and was instrumental in guiding us with the land acknowledgement. Norwood shared perspectives and guidance with Colon and Jackson and through this consultation, co-created Renaissance's land acknowledgement statement:

"Renaissance Middle School, as part of the Restorative Justice Initiative, acknowledges that the land our town and school is built on is part of the traditional land of the Lenni Lenape People. The Lenape People lived in harmony with one another upon this territory since ancient times. During the colonial era and early federal period, many were removed west and north (Indian Removal Acts) but some also remain among the continuing historical tribal communities of NJ. We acknowledge the Lenni Lenape as the original people of this land and their continuing relationship with their territory. In our acknowledgement of the continuing presence of these tribal communities in their homeland, we affirm our respect for the heritage and legacy of their people. We hold to the aspiration of the great Lenape Chief Tamanend, that there be harmony between the indigenous people of thislandand the descendants of immigrants to this land, "as long as the rivers and creeks flow, and the sun, moon and stars endure." 

art piece

Also in preparation for the land ceremony, Colon and Jackson also collaborated with 7th Grade ELA teacher, John Garzon, 7th Grade social studies teacher, Susan Thomas and with art teacher, Edward Woodward. Collectively, they created lessons and discussions that focused on the impacts of marginalization, colonialism and land-based injustice on indigenous people historically and today.  Woodward and students from the art class worked together, also under the guidance of Pastor Norwood, to create a flag to also be displayed in the school’s lobby. The image the staff and students chose for the flag blended the school symbol, a lotus flower, with a box turtle (pictured above).

group at ceremony

“A tremendous amount of work went into planning this important and impactful Land Acknowledgement at Renaissance,” said Principal Maria Francisco. “The time and effort dedicated to this event allowed our students to use critical thinking strategies as they learned about the impact that colonialism has had on native people in the Western world. Additionally, students were able to partake in discussions that provided historical insight; specifically, as it relates to the story of Christopher Columbus. Lastly, students were able to recognize that social justice issues are not new, and as a result, found feelings of compassion and appreciation for others in their own communities.”

Both the plaque and the flag are displayed in the lobby of the school’s entrance.  

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