How do we acknowledge, confess, and lament the sorrows and crimes of our heritage while also honoring and expressing our gratitude our forebears?
I heard Darlene Kascak, of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, welcome a crowd of people to a ceremony, and I was struck by the truth and love in her words, so I wanted to share them as a model of how to talk about the past:
“Every community owes its existence to the courageous and brave generations before them. Our ancestors sacrificed their hopes and dreams to create the history that has led us to this exact moment in time. Some ancestors left their homes from far away places in search of a better life, some were brought here against their will, never to see their homelands again, while others have lived continuously on this land for more generations than can be counted. We must honor and respect our elders for it is important for us as people to understand our place within the history of this land and recognize the circumstances that brought us here. Truth and acknowledgment of our past is crucial to building mutual respect for one another in order to connect us once again regardless of barriers of heritage and difference.”
I hope that you might be able to use these words and that they would be a blessing to you – and way to help you find gratitude in light of our complicated histories.