Acknowledgement of Territory

Acknowledgement of Territory
Image: Four Directions Centre, Queen’s University
Queen’s is situated on traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territory. We are grateful to be able to be live, learn and play on these lands.To acknowledge this traditional territory is to recognize its longer history, one predating the establishment of the earliest European colonies. It is also to acknowledge this territory’s significance for the Indigenous peoples who lived, and continue to live, upon it and whose practices and spiritualities were tied to the land and continue to develop in relationship to the territory and its other inhabitants today.

When the first Europeans began to arrive in Southern Ontario in the early 1600s, the north shore of Lake Ontario and the area originally known as Katarokwi (Kingston) were a shifting home to both the Huron-Wendat Peoples and the Haudenosaunee (pronounced: Hoe-den-oh-‘show-nee) people of the Five Nations/Iroquois confederacy. These peoples spoke related Iroquoian languages.

Alongside these peoples, in a broad band running from modern-day Quebec, along the St. Lawrence, around the Great Lakes and into what is now Northern Ontario, Michigan, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Minnesota, lived the Anishinaabek (pronounced: A-nish-in-‘a-beg). This name means Original People or Good People in the Anishinaabemowin language.

The Anishinaabek comprise the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Odawa (Ottawa), Chippewa, Mississauga, Saulteaux, Nipissing and Algonquin people. This area specifically was inhabited by the Mississauga and Algonquin peoples. These peoples all speak the Anishinaabemowin language, which is a member of the Algonquian language family.

After the British established a more permanent colony along the north shore of Lake Ontario in 1758, in particular in the Katarokwi area, the Mississauga (who had established a community in the region in the early 1700s) ceded Kingston and the surrounding territory to the British Crown in 1783 with the signing of the Crawford Purchase. Trading between the Iroquois Confederacy and Anishinaabe peoples continued in Katarokwi, however, even after the American-based United Empire Loyalists, sympathizers with the British during the American Revolution of 1776, moved peacefully into what the British called Upper Canada in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

The Iroquois (Six Nations) Confederacy, known widely by the Cayuga word Haudenosaunee, meaning the People of the Longhouse, today have five communities ranging across southern Ontario, eastern Quebec and south into New York State. The Tyendinaga Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte is Kingston’s closest First Peoples reserve community, and the only government-recognized territory within the Kingston region. The Kingston Indigenous community continues to represent the area’s Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee roots. There is also a significant Métis community and there are First Peoples from other Nations across Turtle Island present here today.


CATR Programming Committee Land Acknowledgment

As part of CATR 2018, Stó:lō scholar and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, Dylan Robinson, will host a plenary discussion on performing land acknowledgments. In consulting with him on how we might engage in a respectful practice of acknowledgment as part of our conference opening, Dylan suggested that we include something prominently in the written/online program that comes from the organizing committee. In particular this would be an articulation that would move acknowledgement beyond standardization from the perspective of ourselves as a diverse group of theatre scholars and practitioners with very different positionalities. He encouraged us to seek to address the question: why is acknowledgement important to us?

Creating situational and relational practice of acknowledgement at our conference can be a way to query what this academic gathering will be offering to the land and Indigenous peoples of this place. Taking time to consider these things, both before we arrive as we prepare our contributions and then also throughout the conference could be part of a decolonial practice that moves away from extractivist assumptions that the land, Indigenous peoples and other-than-human beings that inhabit it are irrelevant to the work that we do.

Each member of the programming was asked to craft a statement (max. 150 words) that responds to these prompts:

  • Where you are coming from – in relation to your positionality and the Indigenous peoples and territories where you currently live and work?
  • What does your presence on Haudenosaunee / Anishinaabe lands potentially bring?
  • Why is land acknowledgment important to you?
  • Include an image of your choice, e.g. from your home, or a visual metaphor that relates to your statement in some way…

We also consulted Métis scholar Chelsea Vowel’s article “Beyond Territorial Acknowledgments” for thoughts on how (and why) to move beyond basic territorial acknowledgments.

A slideshow that is the result of this process will be playing on a loop in the lobby of the Isabel.