Thanksgiving & National Day of Mourning

Thanksgiving & National Day of Mourning

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Dear Union Community, Friends and Supporters, 

It seems like it was only yesterday that we were starting the school year with a beautiful and meaningful Convocation ceremony. And already, Thanksgiving is here. I hope that at Thanksgiving all of you find some time to rest, recharge, and relax with loved ones!

While Thanksgiving is a time when some of us traditionally gather with our families to give thanks, I also want us to remember that it is National Day of Mourning for some Indigenous communities for whom Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands and the erasure of Native cultures. On National Day of Mourning these communities honor Indigenous ancestors and Native resilience. Like last year, Union joins them on this day of remembrance and spiritual connection, as well as in the protest against the racism and oppression that Indigenous people continue to experience worldwide. Thanksgiving is a particularly difficult time for the Wampanoag people on whom the generally told story of Thanksgiving is based. You can learn more about that here

This year, at Union, we have been starting all our events with a land acknowledgment. We invited students and alums from Indigenous communities to participate in the crafting of the land acknowledgment and we also sought the input of the Sweetwater Cultural Center. Once finalized, the plaque with the land acknowledgment was placed in the stairway entrance leading to James Chapel. We also made a financial gift to the Sweetwater Cultural Center and created scholarships for Lenape students to our M.A. in Social Justice program. 

We see this as one of our first steps in uncovering and addressing Union’s history and more to follow on that front soon. Many thanks to everyone who has been collaborating with us on this journey and I am sharing here Union’s land acknowledgment:

Union Theological Seminary acknowledges and honors the land on which this building stands as the homeland and territory of the Lenape People as well as the habitat and dwelling place of the many beings they have been in relationship with. We give thanks to all of the spirits of Nature. We pay respect to Lenape peoples past, present, and future and express support for the flourishing of Indigenous peoples and lifeways within this place and everywhere.

Onward in justice and love,

President Serene Jones