Elizabeth Solomon, Assistant Director for Academic Affairs & Fellowship Programs in the Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences, opened the 2018 Harvard Chan Convocation with an official acknowledgment of native land and peoples. As a member of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag, Elizabeth provided context for why the acknowledgement of native space is practiced. “When indigenous communities in the United States gather together they traditionally acknowledge and honor the ancestral holders of the land they are meeting on. I am here today because the Harvard Chan Dean’s Office has taken the important step of incorporating this acknowledgement of Native land and peoples into the convocation activities.”
The acknowledgement provided a brief history on Harvard’s earliest ties to Native people. Harvard was established with a charter that pledged to educate both English and Indian youth; and it was at Harvard where the Bible was translated by Native people into the Massachusett language and printed on the first printing press in North America, at Harvard’s Indian College.
While this was just a small part of the convocation celebration, Elizabeth’s acknowledgement closed with a request to remember that no matter where we are in the Americas, we are in Native space and there are indigenous people who belong to that place.