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Indigenous Peoples in Pennsylvania History

Penn State Acknowledgement of Land

This guide is meant to support the work of a group of Indigenous faculty, staff, and students at Penn State who have been researching, formulating, and connecting with Native American residents of Pennsylvania as well as Tribal Nations who can trace their histories back to the land on which the campuses of Penn State reside. In 2021, the work resulted in the following Land Acknowledgement being officially adopted by the University to be used by all those who wish to acknowledge this aspect of Penn State's history and think more inclusively about what it means to be a Land Grant University.

 

Penn State Acknowledgement of Land

In collaboration with the Indigenous Peoples Student Association (IPSA) and the Indigenous Faculty and Staff Alliance (IFSA)

The Pennsylvania State University campuses are located on the original homelands of the Erie, Haudenosaunee (Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora), Lenape (Delaware Nation, Delaware Tribe, Stockbridge-Munsee), Shawnee (Absentee, Eastern, and Oklahoma), Susquehannock, and Wahzhazhe (Osage) Nations.  As a land grant institution, we acknowledge and honor the traditional caretakers of these lands and strive to understand and model their responsible stewardship. We also acknowledge the longer history of these lands and our place in that history.

 

In addition to the land that Penn State campuses sit on, the University continues to benefit from the transfer, purchase, and appropriation of land from 114 Tribal Nations/Bands that was given to Penn State under the Morrill Act. In “Entangled Pasts: Land-Grant Colleges and American Indian Dispossession,” (History of Education Quarterly, Volume 59, Issue 4, November 2019), Margaret Nash writes, “Pennsylvania received scrip for 780,000 acres," and the money raised from the sale of this scrip continues to be the founding funds for the University's endowment, currently estimated to be worth more than $4,000,000,000.

 

For those who wish to do their own research and learn more, this guide collects resources related to the history of Native Americans in Pennsylvania including land treaties and appropriations as well as primary source documents. Whenever possible, we have tried to highlight materials and resources that include Native American perspectives and voices.