We have much to be grateful for, but ours is not a journey we take alone. We give thanks to our ancestors upon whose shoulders we stand. We give thanks to the Earth, the moon, sun, and stars. We give thanks for the infinite sky above and the ground beneath our feet. We give thanks to all the beings on the Earth, from the plants, trees, and animals to the forces of wind and weather, soil and stone. We give thanks to the water that courses through the veins of our planet and our bodies, making life possible for so many. We are grateful for all those we hold dear and to our fellow humankind who shares responsibility for the care of future generations. Our work highlights how people are inextricably part of nature and all its systems. We are grateful to live and share this amazing planet.
[There is a beautiful translation of the Mohawk version of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, which was published in 1993 by the Six Nations Indian Museum and the Tracking Project. The Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World was shared by John Stokes and Kanawahienton (David Benedict, Turtle Clan/Mohawk) and Rokwaho (Dan Thompson, Wolf Clan/Mohawk) with original inspiration from Tekaronianekon (Jake Swamp, Wolf Clan/Mohawk). You can read this beautiful address here.]
Our gratitude runs deep for the Indigenous peoples who were forced from their ancestral lands across the United States and beyond. The Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools (ERAFANS) is based in Baltimore County, Maryland on the ancestral lands of the Paskestikweya (Pist-ka-tanh-wah) people. We humbly offer our respects to the elders, past and present citizens, of the Piscataway Conoy, the Piscataway Indian Nation, and the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, which are all Algonquian (Al- Gon-Qwe-An) Peoples.
We honor the cultures, histories, and continued contributions of Indigenous peoples and acknowledge the violent history of 500 years of colonial oppression at the hands of European explorers and those who settled here. No land acknowledgement can right the wrongs suffered by these and other Indigenous people, but we engage in this practice to promote social justice, decolonization, and greater Indigenous visibility. It is also an important reminder that we live and work on sacred land.