Indigenous Land Acknowledgement
“It contained abundant resources: More than nine miles of winding rivers and adjacent meadows, six potential mill sites and seven ponds (both natural and beaver-dammed), as well as hills and plains and plentiful woodland. Upland plains had been cut and burned over in sandy fertile locations for farming, and underbrush had been fired to clear paths for attracting game. In this environment, the Musketaquid people achieved self-sufficiency through hunting, fishing, gathering, and farming.”—“From Musketaquid to Concord,” on the selection by colonial settlers of the 36-square-mile “tract along the junction of the two branches of the Musketaquid River” where Concord was founded in 1637 and from which the existing indigenous community was displaced
“The land still teaches you, on the ground, about its character. So even if there’s a farm there, you can still see where the terraces are, where women plated fields, you can still see the time of year that land turns green as opposed to other places and how fertile it is. You can still see the swamps and the many different plants that would have been seen as medicine.”—Lisa Brooks, Abenaki writer and scholar of English and American studies
As a farm engaged in questions of food access and food justice, Gaining Ground understands that not only do the vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers we grow have a past, present, and future, but so too does the land we partner with. Our farm is a place, and its physical, geological, biological, and human history plays a critical role in the work we do here every day.
The site of the farm on what is now known as Virginia Road in Concord, Massachusetts, has been under cultivation more or less continuously at least since the seventeenth century, according to available records—though Indigenous communities in the area had enjoyed the region’s rich soils, hunted its abundant forests, and fished its many rivers for about 10,000 years before that.
We recognize that this land that we are a guest on, and this land that we are benefiting from, is the ancestral land of the Nipmuc, Pawtucket, and Massachusett people. Before it was called Concord, this place was known as Musketaquid, meaning “grassy plain” or “place where the waters flow through the grasses.”
We express our deepest respect to the Nipmuc, Pawtucket, and Massachusett communities—past, present, and future—whose histories, cultural practices, and lives are bound to this place. We recognize the enduring relationships between Indigenous peoples and the traditional territory that our farm occupies.
We also hold profound gratitude for the land and waters that make up the farm and its surroundings. The natural world, which we are a part of, binds all living things together into one interconnected and interdependent community.
Through colonial violence, disease, and practices of dispossession, Indigenous communities were—and continue to be—displaced and oppressed. We acknowledge the harm perpetrated in the name of profit, power, and nation-making, and commit to learning and sharing this truth. Today, Indigenous peoples in New England continue to resist ongoing colonization and oppression.
“Food for us comes from our relatives, whether they have wings, or fins, or roots. And indeed that is how we consider food. Food has a culture. It has history.”—Winona LaDuke, land rights activist, environmentalist, economist, author, and an Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe) enrolled member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg
“Not only was the land taken and her people replaced, but colonization is also the intentional erasure of the original worldview, substituting the definitions and meanings of the colonizer.”—Robin Wall Kimmerer, botanist, poet, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation
We understand that land acknowledgments are a small but necessary step toward ensuring a culture of honesty and accountability in our community. These words establish a mandate to tend and sustain a better relationship with the land, its history, and its complete community—of humans, animals, plants, and fungi.
We recognize with gratitude that the regenerative farming practices we follow at Gaining Ground that focus on the health of the farm’s entire ecosystem have their roots in ancestral land management strategies. Many of these techniques, systems, and ways of knowing that we benefit from today—including intercropping, no-till growing, polyculture, and the rotational cropping and resting of cultivated land—originate within Indigenous communities.
We invite you to join us in learning more about the Indigenous peoples on whose homelands Gaining Ground now resides and the Indigenous homelands on which you live and work.
An excellent resource for starting to learn about this history is Native Land Digital, which visualizes historical Indigenous territories, spoken languages, and treaties between the United States government and Indigenous nations. There are no treaties on this map for the area of New England. This is a result of the time between the arrival of the first English colonizers and the formation of the United States government, as well as the particular history and practices of land seizure in the Northeastern United States.
To learn more about the history of colonization in New England—and in Concord, in particular—we recommend these resources on the Great Dying and the founding of Concord. We are committed to the continual, sustained process of learning about the ancestry and Indigenous history of this land and place. If you have other resources you recommend, we invite you to share them with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.