"At Brooks School, we live and learn on land once of the Pennacook people, and we acknowledge their enduring presence."
In January 2020, third-form Winter Term class “How Did Massachusetts Get Its Name?” drafted the above land acknowledgment — a statement that recognizes indigenous peoples' presence and their connection with the land — as part of its study of local Native American history and culture.
Brooks has begun using the statement at major school events and the opening of Chapel services in order to acknowledge the indigenous people who called this land home.
Students introduced the land acknowledgment in Chapel and shared what they'd learned about the people who lived on our campus up through the 17th century, a confederation known as the Pennacook.
Why Are Land Acknowledgments Important?
"It shows respect and illuminates the all too often invisible history of Native people," said history teacher Amanda Nasser during her class' February 2020 presentation.
If you were here on the Brooks campus 450 years ago, looking across toward Weir Hill, you would see wigwams and longhouses, with dugout canoes on the lake.
During the "How Did Massachusetts Get Its Name?" Winter Term, students . . .
- learned about northeastern Native American people and cultures,
- looked at artifacts dug up from Brooks' campus and surrounding towns, including stone adze heads, spear points, arrowheads, knives and bowls,
- and journeyed out into fields, forests and lakes to learn about edible plants, how to track animals, create shelters and make tools.
How Can This Statement Help Our Community Move Forward?
"By developing a land acknowledgement you begin to understand your place within the land’s history," said Nasser. "You may learn not only the history of the land here at Brooks but also the present-day challenges many Indigenous peoples are facing."
Just to hear the name Lake Cochichewick, Associate Head of School for Academic Affairs Susanna Waters adds, "is to wonder who named it and what it meant to them. Geographic features our world over hold special significance for those who live amongst them, and are intrinsically linked to human spirituality and help shape culture. That is true for anyone who has run the 'fire trail' for cross country, catalogued trees with Mr. St. Cyr during AP Environmental Studies, sledded the 'Green Machine' after a snowfall, played pond hockey near the softball field or raised the Brooks flag at sunrise. The environment where we live shapes us, and we in turn shape the environment."
We believe this acknowledgement keeps Brooks in touch with the past and committed to thoughtful ongoing stewardship of the land for the future.